Light and Hope

Ana Hebra Flaster

 We’re big recyclers in our house; our shattered, lopsided bins prove it. We keep the thermostat up in the summer and down in winter. When Masspirg sends the nation’s youth to our door, I listen and usually sign the petition they’re peddling. I conserve and protect natural resources whenever possible. But the new push to use energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs is bumming me out big time.

 I have these corkscrew-shaped bulbs in most of our fixtures, thanks to the free MassSave energy audit we had here last winter. The bulbs cast a sad blue light that my mother says reminds her of communist Cuba. All I know is that when my loved ones sit under these lights, thoughts of jaundice and vitamin D deficiency float through my mind. To make matters worse, the bulbs don’t work well on dimmer switches or when a room is cold.

 The new bulbs mean well. They save electricity and think green thoughts, but too often they don’t work well on dimmers, or when a room is cold, and just flicker with good intentions while you feel around the inside of your sock drawer in the dark.

But it turns out we can have good lighting and save our planet, too. There’s a new efficient version of the standard 100 watt bulb that sheds the same kind of warm light, dims, and fires up in the cold just like the classic one—although it costs about $1.50 more.  Two web sites offer great details about energy efficient lighting options: and You see? There’s hope.

I’m trying to shine a light on hope wherever I go these days. I found bottomless wells of the stuff last Saturday at the Pan Mass Challenge cycling fundraiser in Bourne, Mass. After losing our beautiful vibrant friend, Wendy, to cancer last November, my husband joined hers in this ride to benefit cancer research and patients. Everywhere I looked that hot afternoon, I saw hope. The rider who ignored his missing leg and just peddled on with his fancy prosthetic device past the finishing line. Behind him came a pair of tandem riders, a man in front, a thin, obviously ill woman, on the second seat, both smiling and waving to us as we cheered. I saw a sweaty happy rider look around as she glided toward the finish line. She glanced at the crowd of supporters ringing bells and waving signs of gratitude at her, at the mob of riders ahead who had just stopped under the finish line banner, then she looked up at the banner itself and lost it. Her hand flew up to cover her mouth, her head sagged down, and she wept. I looked away for a moment; so much emotion in a stranger seemed too private a thing to see. As I wiped my own eyes I wondered whom or what she’d thought of at that moment. When I turned back she was smiling again and waving to us all, her eyes brimming with light and hope.



Ana Hebra Flaster is a freelance writer and Lexington resident. Ana’s work has been featured on NPR and the Boston Globe.


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