What a winter this has been (and is!)…snow in areas of the country where snow doesn’t belong…minimal snow and raised temps in Alaska, of all places…days-long power outages in places that don’t normally lose power…horrible traffic messes on interstates and streets in places that don’t have snowplows or decent snowstorm plans in place…we Northeasterners chuckle (discretely, of course, as the tables can easily be turned) at how wimpy and less-than-competent our Southern counterparts become at just a taste of what we experience for months every year.
That said, one universal experience which does NOT depend on snow or winter is loss of electricity. That can happen for any number of reasons…an accident knocking down poles (happens a lot here), high winds, ice, heavy snow…so we all know what it is like to live without power at some point or another. But memories of power outages are like memories of labor and delivery…EXTREME while they are happening and right afterwards, with a steady loss over time of a sense of what it was really like.
I don’t know if it was the distinctive tweet of the smoke detectors that woke me or if it was just me waking up for no good reason. The house was dark, so I figured that the sleep function on the TV had gone off, leaving the bedroom dark and quiet. As I stirred, so did Boo, flying off the bed with his distinctive headfirst, pellmell abandon to let me know he wanted to go out. I checked the birdfeeder for squirrels, as that is often what attracts Boo in the night. Hmmmm…no squirrels. So, I pulled myself out of bed, flicked on the outside lights and…nothing…flick…nothing…than the sleep fog begins to clear and I realize that the house is REALLY dark and quiet and that the room is quite chilly. Yup, 1am and the power is out. Yes, we do have a big nor’easter in our forecast, but it isn’t due to start until sometime Thursday afternoon. So, I let Boo out into the darkness, stumble into the bathroom, relieve myself (isn’t that a quaint phrase…I couldn’t think of a non-gross way to say I stumbled into the bathroom to pee) and flush…OH NO!!!! We have no power, which means we have no water (pump at the well is powered by electricity) which means I wasted my precious last flush on something inconsequential. Sigh…I stumble back to the door to let Boo in and crawl back under the thick, warm comforter, pick up my cell to check with the Central Maine Power outage site and realize that I forgot to plug in my cell AND my laptop to charge before I fell asleep…ACK!!! I can plug them into the truck’s charger, but that only works when the truck is running and I only have about 1/8 of a tank of gas in the truck. Where was my brain yesterday????
The good news is that I had about 1/4 of my cell power left, so I could periodically power up and check the local news to see what may have caused the outage (our whole peninsula was out, which often means a car accident somewhere along the line) and to check the CMP outage site to see if there was an end in sight. I finally fell back to sleep, with a 31 pound Boo spooned into my back and a purring Sophie under the covers keeping me warm. I awoke again at about 5am and it was still dark and now quite cold. I lay there with my brain whirring…I could use the pitcher of water from the refrigerator to flush the toilet, if needed (I know, too much bathroom talk…but you’d be amazed at how one’s body responds to the prospect of having no working toilet!)…I could get up really early and drive the truck into town (a half hour) to get gas, while also charging my cell and laptop…but I would hate to take the chance of the storm starting early and having trouble getting back down my half mile long driveway which won’t be plowed until the storm is over…I could try to go back to sleep…I wonder how long the power will need to be out before the refrigerator and freezer become room temperature storage hulks…I take in how dark the house is when there is no power…I take in how light it seems outside without artificial light changing my perception…I watch a squirrel fly from the roof overhang to the birdfeeder…I watch the cats and the dog watch the squirrel in the birdfeeder…I wait, knowing that Boo will not be able to contain himself and who will soon leap off the bed, demanding to be let out to chase said squirrel…I wait….DING DING DING…little bells and whistles go off around the house, from the smoke detectors to the stove to the microwave…power’s back!
I immediately reach over and plug in my cell and my laptop and run to the bathroom to fill the tub, just in case…I once again avail myself of the facilities (is that better?) AND, I flush!!!! All the mod cons.
Only good will come of this power outage. I will be better prepared for future outages…our emergency 5gal water bottle is in an unheated cabin, so is frozen, making it almost useless in the winter…I will keep my electronics charged in the winter…I will make sure the gas tanks are always full…I will make sure that the water pitcher in the refrigerator is FULL at all times. At least I got my wake-up call in the middle of the night, when it was easy to sleep through most of the worst. Let’s see how long it takes for the memory of last night to fade and for me to fall back into lax ways.