Growing up, I encountered ice storms just about every winter, so last week’s unpleasantness was not a total shock to the system. Still, things have changed a lot in the past (mumble) years, so the ice and cold were eye-openers.
In my childhood, for instance, a loss of electricity didn’t incapacitate us. We still had a wood stove for cooking meals, fireplaces in the living room and main bedroom for heat, an upstairs where the heat rose to the kids’ rooms.
If water pipes froze, we trekked down to the creek with buckets to get water for drinking and cooking.
The antenna on the roof brought us television so long as the electricity was on, and with only three channels, it wasn’t such a loss if the power failed.
There was no Internet to miss out on world events, but we had the evening newspaper that still managed to show up in our driveway because the carriers were accustomed to cold-weather storms.
Today, we aren’t so insulated from the weather, so to speak.
My wife said she would never have made it in pioneer days, and if it meant not having the coffee brewed when we wake up, neither would I.
The first time our power went out last week, we heard explosions and grinding sounds outside. My wife said sheets of green fire shot past the windows.
Power was restored after only a couple of hours, but one of our dogs seems to be scarred from the light and noise. She shook like a paint mixer, and even now follows us under foot, fearful of being alone, it seems.
The power went out again that night, and we woke up cold in the morning. No lights, no heat. We just stared at the coffee maker, which sat inert. As the morning dragged on, I ran a cup of tepid water from the tap and poured instant coffee into it. Not great, but it sufficed until power was restored, at which point we raced to turn the coffee maker on.
We learned that although we go shopping every week, we don’t really have much in the way of edibles in the pantry.
We settled on cold cereal and some questionable rice milk that might have been in the refrigerator when we bought it.
Hunger is never so severe as when the doctor says don’t eat after midnight or the stove won’t heat. Maybe those wacko survivalists who keep a basement of food and water aren’t so crazy, after all.
We loaded fresh batteries into flashlights and I cobbled together enough C cells to power the bathroom radio, although we found that the stations worth listening to were off the air.
The instant the power returned, we charged every electronic device so we would be ready should the power fail again. We hoped all that usage wouldn’t cripple the system anew.
We have power now, and a cup of hot coffee awaits all those guys who cleared downed trees and restored our electricity. No matter how many years pass, they’re still hard workers.
Reach Glynn Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org.