The Northeastern US reeled under a severe "tropical snow-storm" yesterday. NYC received a record amount of snowfall. We logged in a modest 15 odd inches at the homestead in Quincy, Mass.
At around 11 AM, we lost power. Sometimes, it's hard to tell when you lose power in the daylight. No lights were on ; the laptop flickered and switched over to battery in the wink of an eye. The phone display glowed green and showed some text. I took me a few seconds to realize that the caller on the other end had vanished into the ether. The text said "Check Phone Line" -- our VOIP phone line was down. We were stuck at home during a blizzard with no music, no TV and no Internet !
I remember hearing about people who lose power during large storms -- usually out somewhere in Pennsylvania or Michigan or Western Mass. "About a 100,000 homes remain without power" says the voice on NPR. Poor souls, I think, and switch stations.
Various scenarios started unfolding in my brain. I visualized the hours ticking on, as we put on additional layers, maybe even caps and gloves, to stay warm at home. The perishables in the fridge are put in a box and kept on the front steps (it's about 7F outside, colder than the fridge). "Honey" I could hear myself say, "we need to grill the cajun-spiced catfish in the fireplace tonight cause it's not going to keep". Last summer, the chimney sweep recommended that we re-build the fireplace prior to lighting any more fires. Throwing caution to the wind, we would continue to keep a raging fire going all afternoon, evening and night -- initially for warmth and later for illumination. I saw myself braving the intolerable elements, the near zero visibility, the howling winds and the swirling snow flakes as I made my way across the vast expanse of 50 feet between the house and the shed for more firewood (dressed in layers per REI recommendations - techwick, insulation, shell) .
I could foresee that with the passage of the day, my sympathy with the homeless would rise ten times. After all, I would be almost in their shoes, well, save that I would be inside of a non-heated but fairly well insulated house. All the taps would be left dripping in order to avoid pipes bursting. We would pull out the down comforters and create a makeshift bed by the fireplace. I would keep the rifle by the bed, and a golden toddy on the mantle. The firewood ring would be in easy reach, as would the poker. Hmmm, with the poker at hand, maybe I could skip the rifle. What if I accidentally shot someone's cat if it nuzzled against our front door, smelling the aforementioned catfish. My picture would be broadcast alongside the great white hunter Cheney, a visual that would haunt me for the rest of my life !
My first instinct after the power cut was to start cooking, mainly because I was hungry. Also, it fascinated me that I would have to light our burners with a flint, since the electric starter would not work. I also theorized that it would help warm the house. I proceeded to churn out one my quickfix meals, a hamburger helper clone but not out of a box. As I squinted to see if the onions had fried, my wife offered to light a candle. Wow, I thought, aromatherapy while you cook.
The moment the meal was ready, the power was back on -- 1 PM EST, roughly 2 hrs later. The temperature had barely dipped a few degrees in the house. The wife was in a T-shirt. "The power's back" she said. "Just in time for TV with lunch", I replied