Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Storm Reminds Us Of What We've Forgotten

While the snow piled up, we kept adding layers.
We were only partially prepared for this massive snowstorm. Normally, I fill up lots of pots and buckets and water bottles, knowing we need 72-hours' worth of water for not just the humans but four pets and the chickens, too. Normally, I bake cookies and put a soup together. Normally, I get out blankets and candles.
However, despite Frankie MacDonald shouting to us to "be prepared for a massive blizzard to hit Nova Scotia", I just didn't do all that. Most of the news on Saturday was about the foiled killing spree planned for Halifax; there wasn't the usual SNOWPOCALYPSE stories that galvinate us, even as we roll our eyes. So we didn't really put much effort into getting ready. We got cocky this time; all the other storms, for which we've been prepared, there was no power outage. So on Sunday, we watched TV and we read and we looked at the snow. I took pictures of it building up on the front deck.
Part of the reason for my lack of preparedness is this book proposal I'm working on. It's going so well that my attention and energy was focused on that, not on survival.
Until the power went out -- just like that, without a warning flicker -- Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m.
"NO!" I hollered from my office. "I'm not ready yet!"
And I actually meant I wasn't ready to stop working.
This is why writers need people to take care of them when they're engrossed in a project. If my husband wasn't cleaning the house and my mother cooking the meals, I'd starve to death as the dust bunnies smothered me.
Because of the propane stove, I was able to make minestrone soup on Sunday morning and it was an interesting reminder of how easy our modern life is for us. When the power is out, when you can't turn on a tap for water, when you want to reuse as many utensils and pans as possible, everything takes a little longer. There is part of me that appreciates a power outage in the middle of winter because it forces me to acknowledge how little work my life is now. Even making a cup of tea is done by flicking a switch on the base of the kettle; filling the kettle with bottles of water then lighting the element manually took just a few more steps, and a lot longer to boil, than it does now. As we sat around in the living room on Sunday night, waiting for the power to come back on, wearing toques and fleece sweaters, long-underwear and gloves, it reminded me that families did this for generations and not so many generations ago. Long, dark winter nights when you might as well climb into bed and go to sleep because it was warmer under the wool blankets.
It also reminded me that it's time to invest in a wood-burning fireplace insert! The gravity feed from the furnace wasn't heating the living room much but, ironically, the gravity feed was taking the heat straight up to my office.
When the power came back on at 2 am, I happened to be awake. The dining room light was on so it was the glow my husband saw when I woke him. He fixed the fire in the furnace and came back to bed. As I lay there, I wondered why it seemed so light outside then I realized that when the power had gone out, my office light had been on. When I slipped past the blanket keeping the heat inside that upstairs room, it was warm and bright. I could have sat down and turned the computer on and picked up right from where I left off.
Writing about the joys and perils of country living.

My candle creation - using mistakenly purchased non-clumping cat litter -put a big glow on which sort of redeemed my failure to provide storm cookies.

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