Monday, November 12, 2007

It's not nice (or wise) to taunt Mother Nature.

Yesterday I egged on the latest storm, urged it to do something significant, dared it to blow my house down. Big mistake. It actually took affront, and while not leaving us homeless, did flip me personally upside down to expose my various vulnerable underbellies, my addictions.

It knocked out the power for almost five hours!!!

Addiction One. The internet. Once the power went out, my first, second, third and so on instincts were to go online and find an estimate of when the power would come back on, and failing that, find out how widespread the outages were and what had caused them. I wanted to check a record of wind speed and direction to form a shape of the storm in my mind, where it was headed and how fast. I wanted to be able to imagine what the heroes up in the cherry picker buckets were dealing with, and how long it would take them to deal with it.

In the old days we would simply walk into a closet to look for the flashlight and uselessly pull the overhead light cord, and that would be the limit of our dimwittedness.

Addiction Two. Coffee. And this is the cruelest part of all this. The power went off at 8 oh 2 am, which was about three seconds after I pushed the ON button on my coffee maker. The Carbon Monoxide detector in the hall shrieked as it is meant to do when power is lost, but not as loudly as I did, and I will forever be haunted by my children's faces because of it.

The wind was fierce and the baffle in the vent from the downstairs bathroom was banging so hard that that side of the house was in danger of falling off. It was making me crazy, the baffle, no internet, no coffee.... Hah! There is an internet cafe at the local mall! Maybe their power is still on. I could phone them if I could go online to find their phone number...... hell. Where is that yellow book thing? Do we still have one of those things? Never mind, I forget how to use it anyway. I would have to google how to use it.

I bundled up and fought my way down the road. Ahead I could see Bob, a guy I kind of know because we both yell at drivers who speed near the elementary school. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend.) Bob was beneath a row of writhing, cone-shedding Douglas firs, limping along slowly, as he always does because he was injured at work. "Where you heading?" I asked him. "Coffee," he replied.

We came to the mall, a scene of desolation, the parking lot almost empty. We looked first at the internet cafe. No lights. We looked at the grocery store, which has a coffee bar. No lights. "Mac's" said Bob, grimly. Behind the mall and across the road, perhaps on a different, still-live sector of the grid, was a Mac's. Mac's would have coffee.

We bore down and headed for Mac's. We rounded the corner of the mall into the teeth of the wind. A woman staggered toward us. "No way," she said. "Mac's is closed too." She was one of us. Then there was a loud collision at the intersection just up the road. The traffic lights were out and no one really understands the four-way stop procedure. We headed that way. Might as well --no TV, no internet, no coffee -- a diversion was needed. The police and fire engines were there before we were. Thankfully no one was hurt, although one car had ended up against a light pole and the other on the front steps of a pub.

Bob and I recognized the futility of our quest and observed that the veneer of civilization is very thin indeed. We limped homeward to check the propane levels in our barbecue tanks. (It is a strange thing, but if you walk any distance with someone who has a pronounced limp, you can end up with one too.)

Soon after we parted company the sky cleared, but the wind kept on. I went past a woodlot where the dying birches were being pulled apart and falling to the ground in chunks. I wasn't wearing a hard hat, so moved smartly.

Addiction Three. Sunflower seeds. I got home to find my son sitting in the breakfast nook, looking out the window at the thrashing shrubbery and the few brave juncos who dared land upon the swaying feeder. He was eating roasted sunflower seeds, the dregs of his Halloween booty. I joined him, nibbling away like a jonesing squirrel.

"Dad, you ate all my seeds," he said.

"I guess I did," I said. "I'll go buy some more, when the power comes back on."

"When is the power coming back on?"

"I'll check the internet."


Cicero Sings said...

Fun, fun post! A hoot.

Be thankful it was only 5 hours. One time I was without for 2 days this time of year, and it was demmed cold it was, in my little place when it finally came back on. I decided then that I would have a wood stove if I ever was able to have a house. And we have one now ... but our power stayed on ... and we had our coffee. Neener, neener, neener.

A Local Naturalist said...

I have learned my lesson, and am off to Canadian Tire to purchase a Coleman stove and a percolator. If the power goes out again, we'll camp in the backyard.