TRR photo by Kristin Barron

Outside my window

I know I am pressing my luck dallying away these day-lit hours as I postpone writing this column.

But I am content to do nothing today but bask in the warmth of my house, with the luxuries of running water and Wi-Fi, as we wait out the second of two March nor’easters.

My family and I are coming off a five-day stretch without electricity from the first storm, which caused widespread power outages throughout the region. Outside my window, next to this computer, I can see the snow falling fast and thick again on this Wednesday afternoon. Luckily, it is my day off and I don’t have to try to get into work tonight. (This is a gleeful thought in any weather but especially in a snowstorm.)

Yes, I’d better snap to it before the power goes out again, and I will be reduced to candlelight and my chicken-scratch handwriting.

Thankfully, I am humbled to report that we endured the power outage in good style. We had jugs of water from the brook for flushing, a generator to keep the food frozen (and to power the 6 o’clock news—an essential in this house) and a propane heater to take the edge off the cold. I learned how to rough it a long time ago, but with conveniences like this, it is a whole lot easier.

Others have not been so lucky. NYSEG reports that about 2,000 Sullivan County residents were still without power. Pennsylvania’s FirstEnergy Storm Center reports around 12,000 outages remaining in Pike County. In context, 16% of Puerto Rico still hasn’t had power restored following Hurricane Maria last September.

All this does put the triviality of my mud streaked floor into perspective. But I am reluctant to put away the paper plates and baby wipes in case the electricity goes out again. The extension cords are still coiled in the corners and we still have a tower built of bottles of Poland Spring drinking water.

We also now have a hole in our living room floor, which my husband, John, drilled during the height of the first storm in order to thread an extension cord from the generator to the sump pump in our cellar. This was a brilliant method that omitted opening the ancient, stubborn cellar door (a door which might not close again) as well as the work of using a hand powered pump.

It is interesting to feel how life tunnels down to the essentials during a power outage: the basics of warmth, food and water, and a return to past ways of life. The nitwellgritwell (as my mother used to say—an extension of the phrase nitty-gritty) of work to keep things going. And I am glad that for us it was only for a short time.

And right now, as I finish up this column on Thursday morning, outside my window, I see a convoy of NESEG trucks travelling south down Route 97, headed toward Sullivan County.

 

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