Monday, January 31, 2011

Actually, I'd like to go back on the grid, thank you very much

Strangely foreshadowed by thunder, snow descended upon us last Wednesday. Trees laden with the thick, heavy snow bent down to the ground, roads grew slushy and slick, and electric lines began to groan with the weight of all those accumulated flakes. Branches touched the power lines, setting off miniature fireworks.

It was all very beautiful and even exciting at first—and then the power went out. A power outage in January isn't all that bad if it's only for a few hours. Heat lingers, refrigerators stay cold. But the power didn't come back on the next day, or the next. The first night we played games by candlelight and then went to bed, waking to a colder house and a cold breakfast. We put on more clothes as the house grew still colder, then put all the food from the freezer into coolers and buried them in the snow.

Friday morning, after 36 hours without power, the house temperature had gotten down to 46.

There's not much you can do when it is 46 degrees inside, and dark. Even my cat, with her thick fur coat, burrowed under the covers. I had no desire to write or even to read; I-just-wanted-to-be-warm.

I read a quote from the guru Rajneesh once, in which he said that spirituality is only for the affluent.  I poo-pooed this at the time, assuming he meant that he only wanted affluent people to follow him, the poor need not apply. But sitting in the cold, hungry and miserable, I understood this in a different way. I prayed only for the electricity to return, to be back on the grid. Faced with the opportunity of silence, all I could think about was food and warmth.

By the time the power returned, early Friday evening, the house was 41 degrees.

I imagine there have been many writers who have managed to write when cold and hungry, in the past and even now. I salute them—it makes their accomplishments all the more astounding.

(I took this photo a few hours after the snow had started on Wednesday night.)

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