root cellar

The power is out (again)

Posted 7/14/21

I realized this column was due minutes before our power went out during last Tuesday’s evening storm of heavy rain and high winds.

What else is new? I thought, already planning for the …

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root cellar

The power is out (again)


I realized this column was due minutes before our power went out during last Tuesday’s evening storm of heavy rain and high winds.

What else is new? I thought, already planning for the possibility that the power outage might extend into the next day or beyond. I got out the paper plates, the lanterns and the bottled water. We fueled up the generator, and I considered an imminent trip to town to knock out this column on the library’s public computer.

I say I should be used to it by now—frequent power outages have always been a part of living here in French Woods. It’s nothing really in the scheme of things, but it does throw a wrench in the works when you have to get something written by deadline. Also, as in the past year of pandemic restrictions, work and school have been virtual.

With the lack of reliable cell service at our house, we continue to rely on our landline phone particularly during times with no electricity. Decidedly, the lack of internet is harder for my children than it is for me. My daughter will opt to stay with a friend in town when our power is out for the convenience of showers and internet. But then, she has been known to laugh about the naivete of kids at her college who freaked out during a short power outage there this spring.

We’ve been through a few lengthy outages that I have largely forgotten about. Hurricane Irene. Super Storm Sandy. But one of the most memorable outages occurred during a November ice storm that required my elderly mother to stay with us. My son, then 4, loved the thrill of the unexpected company and excitement of the storm. He bobbed around with a “Hello Kitty” lantern, roaring like Godzilla, his favorite character at that moment. What I mostly recall is worrying about my newborn daughter who had a bad cold.

Another remarkable outage was part of a power grid failure in the summer of 2003. My mother, who had just been given a touch-activated desk lamp, was showing us her new gift. She touched it and simultaneously the power cut off. She thought it was some sort of house electrical failure on the part of her new lamp and not the massive power outage that affected the entire east coast. We liked to tease she that she started that widespread outage with her new lamp.

Most often, our outages are due to a falling tree or branch resting on the electric lines. This has incited my husband, John, to go on a vendetta against tree limbs poised to fall. He also keeps a notebook chronicling the frequency and scale of our outages, looking for patterns in the numbers that he can use to predict the origin of a power failure. He has also repeatedly asked NYSEG to trim trees along the power lines. Once, notably, he had me stop at the NYSEG office in Liberty to request that the company come to trim trees in our neighborhood. He was very amicable about it all because he was on the return trip from having a colonoscopy at Harris hospital and was still feeling the pleasurable effects of his anesthesia. Oh, and did I mention it happened to be Christmas Eve? My point being—who not only schedules a colonoscopy on Christmas Eve but then stops to pester NYSEG employees waiting to leave for a holiday?

We have been lucky here. NYSEG did send a crew to look over our trees after that encounter. We have never lost food or needed to relocate due to medical concerns. And the power came back earlier than expected during this most recent outage, and I was able to write this column with the comforts of home.

NYSEG, power outages, electricity


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