We go, one night, to the community garden with a jar because fireflies are in season. We catch the tiny lightning flashes, Isabella stares at them through the glass of the jar, we let them go. "Daddy, this is so much fun," she tells me. We stay in the park till after dark, since there is no point going home to an unlit apartment, and we listen to a group of Japanese music students play Bach.
The world of techno cannot intrude. It's like we're taking a break. Summer is here and all sorts of fruits are bursting into our lives courtesy of the farmer's market. I spend lots of time with Isabella because there's no light to work by anyway. "Daddy," Isabella says when we come in to the dark apartment the first night after the electricity is turned off, "turn on the lights."
"We don't have lights anymore, honey, we only have candles," I say.
Next night, when we come in, Isabella, without blinking, says, "Daddy, turn on the candles."
We eat blueberries and strawberries and plums around the table by candlelight. Then Isabella goes to bed and Michelle and I talk. We are asleep most nights by ten. People keep telling us how good we look.
Excerpted from NO IMPACT MAN: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes About Himself and Our Way of Life in the Process by Colin Beavan, published in September by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2009 by Colin Beavan. All rights reserved.