|I Am Solar Charged|
|Tuesday, 16 October 2012 00:00 | Written by Tonya Kay | Blog Entry|
When I was growing up, our cats would lie in the sun for as long as it would shine through our window. Cats sleep twenty out of twenty-four hours per day, anyway. Without even a dream twitch, they'd sun bake for as many hours as they could—each hot to the touch, just a fireball hairball with the secret smile of royal satisfaction. Mom always said they were solar charging.
I live in an apartment now, with giant windows and 100% fewer cats. For a year or so, I've been conjuring ways to flatter my landlord into allowing a solar panel on his use-prohibited roof. Paying rent on time, fixing bad wiring, repainting trim and doors, I've even planted on the shady side of the grounds, fantasizing that my dedication to the green cause, as well as the property, will eventually persuade him. My hope is that, even if he doesn't share the same alternative-energy ideals as I do, perhaps my behavior will inspire his approval—possibly even his aid— to install this building's first solar panel.
Even though lots of us city dwellers don't own our homes, we still have low-impact ideals. Going through the landlord-courting process makes me feel like homeowners have no excuse but to experiment with alternative energy; it’s so much easier to get started if you didn't need to get permission!
In the meantime, I'm actively lessening my energy needs in hopes that one solar panel will suffice. Being a raw vegan, I don't own a microwave (does anyone anymore?). There's no coffee pot or toaster oven in my kitchen, and the dishwasher is used for flower vase storage while the oven holds pots and pans. Instead, I have acquired a hand-crank blender and a human-powered juicer. Recently a small, Greenstar 5-Star refrigerator replaced the antique one that looked cool, but was built long before energy-efficiency ratings.
To cut back more on my electricity use, I'm enjoying not needing lights during the long, summer days. And at night, I'm flipping off lights I don't need—even if I am just leaving the room for a bit. Many times I replace electric lights altogether with beeswax and palm-wax candles. I can even read a book from the light of a single nearby votive... and the shading produced by candlelight is every lover's vision of perfection.
For radiation reduction as well as energy conservation, I flip the power-strip switch if I am not using my wi-fi modem or printer. All that's left of my electricity usage is a daily big-time stereo jam so I can dance, workout or sing at the top of my lungs (there are some things I won't cut back on). The electricity use in my home has become so low that, even with the stereo jams, I am banking on needing to purchase only one solar panel.
So while I am waiting for my bank account and landlord to endorse this idea, I have snuck up onto said use-prohibited rooftop to enjoy some private, full-body sun worship. Relishing the heat, half inch of flesh deep, I am warmed, my serotonin is refreshed, my Vitimin D is replenished and my circadian rhythms are synchronized. Wait a second—I am solar charging! I am solar charging and need neither money nor permission. Most importantly, I don't have to wait. I can make alternative energy work for me right now.
Indirect transfer of solar energy is inefficient. Kinda like growing crops to feed cattle to feed people. Direct transfer of solar energy is like growing crops to directly feed people.The inefficient middle stop, where so much energy and resources are lost, is removed from the equation. Since realizing that I now live in paradise and have everything needed to thrive, I've built a rooftop food dehydrator—the sun's heat and the rising air current dry my raw foods consistently and thoroughly at low temperatures for nine months of the year.
And I haven't stopped there. What about that non-regulated energy hog of apartment dwellers’ communal bane: the pay-per-use laundry room. And although I can't avoid scrounging for six quarters every time I need clean socks, I can bypass the dryer, saving energy, the lifespan of clothing (people, lint is your clothes coming apart) and a $1.25 cycle fee. I've instead spent $10 on a 50-foot line of flax rope and two bags of wood clothes pins. I’ve strung that line between three secure jim-jaws on my use-prohibited rooftop so that, within an hour on windy, sunny days, my jeans are dry, my whites are whiter, I have spent part of the day outdoors and my clothes smell like wind and sunshine. I wear wind and sunshine. (I also built a solar food dehydrator on my roof. Here are the plans.)
Best of all, when I use my ingenuity to take the most simple approach to alternative energy, I "accidentally" build a relationship with some of the most powerful natural forces. And once we have a relationship, we can communicate. I listen to the Wind. And the Sun hears me. These small, ingenious actions are, more than anything, a ritual to the Earth. Because I have taken the time to gauge the Air's movements and scope the Sun's journey across the sky, I am gifted with the ability to feel the goodness and ecstasy of the Sun's heat penetrating my rooftop flesh, natural like the day I was born, wearing no more than the secret smile of royal satisfaction.
Who, here, does not the Sun feed?
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