Snow Day

We had a ton of snow here on Monday night – could have been twelve inches, maybe more. It certainly looked like more when I looked out the kitchen door at 8:30 a.m. and realized that there was no way I was making it to Art Day. At that very instant the power went off, and I was immediately incredibly grateful for my wood stove.

I was sad to miss Art Day, a once-a-month get-together with other art-minded friends to work on projects, swap ideas, eat a potluck lunch and drink coffee and some wine. Oh, sure, I could have an Art Day at home, but it’s not the same. Never mind – I’ve learned the fine art of being snowbound, which is largely a matter of finding things to do by daylight and remembering to locate the candles before the sun goes down.

David set up the Coleman stove, so cooking was not a problem. Water was more of one – without power, the pump doesn’t work, so the water pressure drops very quickly. Fortunately, we had a ton of snow and a wood stove, so melting drinking water was not a problem. Flushing water came from the 350-gallon koi pond in bucketsful.

This was a reminder to me of the kind of world I’m writing about in the Swan Harp trilogy; one where running water means you run for it, where heat is local to the fireplace and light to the windows or candles. We don’t even think about how very convenient our world is, and how different the removal of a little thing like easily-available water, or light, makes it.

Getting water to the chickens was more work, and David had to dig out the generator and fire it up to reinflate the roof of the sunroom. Once that was done, however, and the Coleman stove set up, we went on to have a relaxed sort of a day, with tea and regular meals and reading and talking. Oh, all right, I called Hydro to find out when the power was going to be on, and listened to the messages of “We expect to have power restored by 11:30 a.m.” and then “2:30 p.m.” and then “4:30 p.m.” It finally came back on about 5:30, and we returned to the twenty-first century and watched a DVD before bedtime.

As I said, I was sad about missing Art Day, but it was good for me to reconnect with the world according to some of my characters. I rather enjoyed the solitude and quiet, the feeling that there wasn’t much I could do about the situation, except make the best of it.

In a world where control of every little thing seems to be the watchword, a snow day is a good lesson in letting go of control, going with the flow, doing what you can and letting the rest be. I’m glad of the reminder.

Once a year, however, will do, thank you.

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2 Responses to Snow Day

  1. Helloooo, Elizabeth!

    We went without for a whole week, once,after 3″ of ice fell upon us and pasted itself onto every surface, including every breakable tree branch. As it fell that night, the whole world fell and sounded like a war movie with horrendous popping and snapping of limbs. The next morning it also looked like a war movie.

    We, too, were thankful for wood heat, although it was only a fireplace. We soon learned how to fashion a sort of cooking area inside the fireplace and each night would bed the youngest on the hide-a-bed couch right there in the living room, just feet from the fire. Older children used downstairs bedrooms since we closed off the upstairs areas and robbed all the upstairs bedding for added layers. I, myself, slept on the floor before the fireplace, letting my personal temperature wake me when the fire needed tending.

    Mail was not delivered. Banks did not open. The college called us (it was our son’s winter break) with the news that they had cancelled our son’s enrollment due to our non-reply to their bid for more moneys. They did not believe my explanations. I had to hand-write a reply to their ugly call, and my husband had to walk it to the post office (which WAS open) to post it. And they did accept my money in the form of a check. Money talks.

    Okay, you get the picture. It was romantic, scary, troublesome, hard work. I asked many gal-friends what was the first thing they did once electricity was restored and all gave the same answer: Vacuum! Me too, since we had wood-heat debris everywhere in the carpet.

    My one glowing moment was when I showed the children how to deal with a candle that had almost burned down the the mayonnaise lid that held it: Light a new canlde in the flame of the old one, then quench the old one with the butt of the newly-lit one, holding it still in the puddle of wax until it would hold itself. They were so impressed.

    And I shall forever cherish my seven-year-old’s comment, after the lights came back: “Thanks, Mom, for all you did to keep us alive.”

    Although we were nowhere near death, I never let hiim know it.

  2. ecreith says:

    Hey, why spoil his illusion of your super-momness? Anyway, he’s right – you were near enough to death that a fire made the difference. A small thing, perhaps, but competence in lighting, feeding and keeping a fire is a skill not everyone has. My husband is not as good at lighting the wood stove as I am. I’ve been firekeeper at my witch camp, and taught more than a few people the basics of building a fire that will light, and burn, with one match.
    So take your praise, Katharine – you earned it!

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