As life has gotten back to normal, & I marvel at hot & cold water that magically flows from the tap, I have been reflecting on my 5 days of pioneering it with no power. When I first heard about the storm, I filled the bathtub & water bottles, just-in-case. Maggie woke me at 5:30 a.m. Saturday so I got an early start to the day. Shortly after I vacuumed the layer of dog hair off the carpet, the electricity went out. I managed to do a blog post on battery back up, and then the laptop was off until the power came back on.
What struck me was the silence. No hum of the computer or sound of the heat kicking on. No cars, no trains, no airplanes overhead. Snow muffles everything anyway, but it was very still. All the cleaning & busy-ness that I had planned for the day left with the electricity. So I pulled out my art supplies and started a new altered book journal; will do a separate blog post for that.
Just as I had resigned myself to a Catholic candle night, the electricity came back on. YAY, me! :-) I kept one of my Mother Mary candles burning just-in-case. But something told me this wasn't over; I added more water to the bathtub, and refilled my water bottles, just-in-case. 2 hours later, and 2 minutes after I blew out the candle, out went the power again, not to return til Wednesday night.
It's been hard sorting thru my experience because much of it doesn't have words. But this is what I've learned: the flashiness of a 10 second firewalk is spit compared to this kind of challenge. One of the biggest things is that time slows down. Way down. And there's a lot of waiting: for the sun to rise, for the water to boil (15 minutes) and for the food to slow-cook (2+ hours) on the wood stove.
I slept in the living room with the dogs & woke every 3 hours that first night to put another log on the fire. I was paranoid that it would go out & the pipes would freeze. By the end of it, I could go a good 5 hours.
XM Radio Guy pointed out that the last blizzard of this magnitude was in 1888. What's interesting is that beyond the amount of snow, our ancestors would have been able to cope much better than us in their daily lives. They were already heating & cooking with wood stoves. They had water from a well or cistern or some other system. They weren't dependent on outside power, they were much more self-sufficient. This experience has made me feel closer to my ancestors. There are still people in my life who grew up with a wood cook stove. Dave Dobson told stories about building a fire. My friend Robbie told me stories of her mother heating up water and taking baths in the winter time in the kitchen. And the best baked potatoes in the oven. I had a history professor from college who said he used to stick his feet in the oven when he came home from school to warm up. He used to get in trouble for it.
Even I remember growing up with winters like this and the power going out. Mum made soup on the wood stove. That's how I knew how to do it. I made proper porridge with the double boiler. You know what's yummy? A whole bag of blueberries in porridge. It's like eating pie filling. :-) Just sayin'. I made bean soup and an Italian soup with GF pasta--except GF pasta doesn't take kindly to reheating. It's not as sturdy as its gluten counterpart. It kind of ended up like scrambled lasagna. But it was still yummy. It's hot and filling and I'm eating by candle light!
Seth Godin references the lizard brain, it's that part of our brain that is all about survival. What are the things you need in your daily life to feel safe & that all is right with the world? For me, it's a cup of proper PG Tips tea. My tea kettle has stayed on my stove more as decoration since Brother D got me my electric tea kettle. Well. Here it is, a working kettle again:
I know there are some who think I'm bravely living out in the wilderness. And I am--but with all the creature comforts. I'm not really an outdoorsy type. I love nature, but at the end of the day, I love a proper shower, too. I don't do camping. Well. Until this. When I talked to Mum a coupla days into it, she couldn't stop laughing.
Now that I've been thru it, I think it wasn't so bad. I did it! But that's the thing: you do what you have to do. I guess that's my inherited stiff-upper-lip. No use complaining, just get on with it! Beyond that, I'm so very grateful--for my new wood stove that works--thanks to Neighbor Dave, and for my woodpile, and my Mormon pantry, and for it all. I'm grateful that my cell phone worked thru most of it, and that Neighbor Dave & Carol were here as well, so I wasn't completely alone. I'm very grateful for M&M--altho, nothing really changed for them. Here's my philosophical math for the day out of this experience:
Acceptance + Gratitude = HAPPINESS