That’s right. I said it. Earth Hour can suck it. My lights are staying on. Here’s why.
Hold on a second … before you begin reading this, go grab a coffee or a cocoa, some nice comfy p’jamas and settle in for a long, heartwarming story. There will be love, betrayal and even a chase scene! We’re talkin’ real Hollywood stuff here.
This is all about Earth Hour. An event, observed for the first time in 2007 in Australia. . The event is tomorrow night as a matter of fact.
Every year since then, between 8:30 and 9:30 in the evening, people have been encouraged to show their undying love for Mother Earth by turning their lights off for one hour.
And that is exactly what I did several years ago for our big bulbous globe. I turned every single light off in my house … for 45 minutes. 15 minutes less than the amount I was supposed to. More on that technicality later.
I did this, even though I didn’t have any children tugging at my skirt threatening to tell their teacher on me if I didn’t. I did this because I wanted to do what I could for the greater cause.
I wanted to take a part in a candle lit global revolution. I wanted to feel like I was in a Police video circa 1983.
Also, this was something that could make me feel more highly evolved than all of my light burning neighbours, so that seemed like fun.
Let me set the scene for you. The year was 2008 and the very first global Earth Hour was about to take place.
It was neither a dark nor stormy night.
This is an accurate account of how Earth Hour played out on the evening of March 29th 2008 in a small brick cottage in a small town in Ontario, Canada.
As the Earth hour festivities got underway I took a walk around the neighbourhood to see how few people were taking part. I expected to see lights blazing from every window. Maybe even someone with their furnace running while all their windows and doors were wide open. Or powering their electric toothbrushes with a Hummer.
Something to help me feel smug as I contemplated my own house swathed in darkness a block behind me.
It seemed I wasn’t any more enlightened than everyone around me. The streets were dark as pretty much everyone observed Earth Hour. That was disappointing for me. What I was most hoping to accomplish with Earth Hour was an ego boost.
Even that guy a few doors down who never misses an opportunity to tell me that “recycling is for suckers” had his lights off. Of course, he could have just retired early under a blanket of beer cans while watching a Monster Garage marathon.
I got home and fumbled through the dark into my living room. I thought, it felt good to be taking just one measly little hour of my life to help the world, as I started a fire in the fireplace. And it wasn’t just me … it was the whole world taking part to help save the planet.
It was like we were all giving Mother Earth a great big, green hug. The kind you’d get on St. Patrick’s Day from a large, wobbly stranger but without the fear of being vomited on. I sat down by the glow of the fire and admired my neighbours dark windows.
I was already resolving to do this Earth Hour thing every year for the rest of my life. Even if it was inexplicably cancelled in the future – because of people burning their houses down from lighting candles, for instance – I was gonna do it.
I love feeling like it’s the olden days, so this “turn off the lights” thing was perfect for me. It made me feel like Laura Ingalls.
For some reason I got up to do something – maybe look for my pinafore – when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Of course, being pitch black in the house I couldn’t see what it was. So I felt my way to the closet, running my hands along the walls for guidance, so I could grab a flashlight. There were 15 minutes left in Earth Hour; I didn’t want to turn on a light for fear of being ridiculed by my neighbours.
As I knew I would ridicule them.
I made my way back to where I was and aimed the flash light in the general direction of where I saw something. It was around the tablecloth in my centre hall. I flicked the overhead light on and immediately felt nausea that went from the tip of my head right down to my toes. You know that feeling when you almost fall down the stairs and your feet start to tingle from the fear and then you have an actual stroke, followed by a heart attack and then an aneurysm?
I had that.
There were CENTIPEDES crawling up my floor length table cloth. Lots of them. I ran to the nearest switch and turned on a blaze of lights. There were centipedes everywhere. They were crawling up the inside and the outside of my tablecloth, they were on my stairs and making their way up the walls. The same walls I ran my hands all over making my way to the closet.
I really felt kind of ill now. My heart was pounding and my brain recognized this as a time my face should squinch up into the “Oh my God, I see a bug look” but my brain just couldn’t cope with the overload so it froze, in a sort of ghastly version of the Home Alone kid before turning itself inside out.
I don’t know if there’s been any scientific documentation of pulling a nose muscle, but I did it that night.
Turning all the lights off for an hour wasn’t only an event for me. It became a full-on festival of fun for the centipede army living in my walls. And they came out to party like it was 1999. I distinctly saw one of them was wearing a little purple satin coat.
And just like that I despised Mother Earth. I sunk to my knees, shook my fist at the sky and howled WHYYYYYYYY?????. I can be very dramatic when given the chance. I couldn’t believe after all my work, all my effort she had done this to me. Betrayed me in this way. Because it was HER … it was SHE who created these little monsters that were crawling all over my home (and they weren’t the Lady Gaga little monsters). THEM I would have accepted with open arms.
Now, I love every animal ever made. Except centipedes. Centipedes are the Devil’s phlegm and should be sprayed with the most lethal thing you have in a can.
Which this night was hairspray.
With every light on in the house I ran around spraying every centipede I could, which wasn’t very many because they’re quite a fast moving bug, the centipede. If they ever did decide to go the Lady Gaga monster route they’d make quite a group of dancers.
I’m sure this was quite a site for the neighbours. All of the street darkness with my house lit up like it was on fire offering a perfect view of The Scream running around with a can of hairspray, convulsing, jumping and screaming like a lunatic.
After an hour I had gone through 2 cans of hairspray, the remnants of a can of Raid and all of the pills that might act as some sort of tranquilizer – which at the time turned out to be out half a bottle of chewable Gaviscon.
Every object in my house was held in place with maximum hold, letting off the sickly stench of a hair salon fogged with death chemicals.
For the most part the centipedes had just craned their necks around, looked at me and scurried into a crack to further their party back home. I couldn’t sleep for days. Obviously something had to be done.
The next weekend saw the arrival of the Great Centipede Purge of 2008. I threw out, cleaned, and sprayed my 170 year old basement with the most lethal chemicals I could find. Cans that had pictures of skulls, crossbones and upside down bugs with legs sticking straight up in the air on them.
I think you’ll be surprised to find out that I do still celebrate Earth Hour. One can’t be completely selfish.
I mean, sure she created centipedes but Mother Earth is also responsible for the pretty trees and flowers around in the springtime. And the butterflies I help raise every summer. Butterflies! Now there’s a group of friendly, sensible bugs who would never even think of house squatting let alone having a party.
So yes, I still celebrate Earth Hour. And I still turn all my lights off. I just do it in my own special way.
From 2 to 3 in the afternoon.