Sunday, December 14, 2008

the ice storm cometh

Thursday the rain started, then the temperatures dropped, then the ice started forming.When I opened the door to let the cat out, it wasn't wind I heard blowing, it was creaking ice laden branches. Around 9pm the light flickered dim, and then again at 9:30, I should have followed my thoughts, that told me to turn up the heat some, and turn the temperature of the refrigerator down, just in case the power went out. I of course ignored those voices, I was too busy photographing the icy trees, reflecting the light outside my window.

Hours passed, then at 12:15 am ...POP booop, the power was out, My son and I wait a few seconds for it to come on, and then we realized it wasn't going to happened, off we went finding flashlights, and some LED lanterns, that I had bought years before, and use around Halloween, to light the stairs to our walk way. The dog was less than pleased with the power outage, "what was going on, why were we running around, in the dark?" So off to bed we went, me to my electrically powered heated water bed, and he to his room.My husband was already asleep blissfully unaware, at one point during the night, I thought the lights had come on, but I was too warm in toasty in our bed, and fell back asleep, I'd shut them off in the morning. In the morning noticing the lights were still out , and it was cool in the house, I realized my brain was processing a cars headlights going by,not actual lights coming on.

In the daylight hours the ice covered trees were magnificent, in this kind of surreal frozen fairytale like setting.It was amazing to see how ice covered everything was, and how it came showering down when the temperatures outside increased. We sat, read, drank alot of hot tea, and cocoa, made grilled cheese sandwiches, and naively believed the light would be on in the afternoon, just like a friend rumored, no such luck Chuck.

We ate dinner by candlelight, and camping lantern light.We did the dishes a la camping style, we heated pots of water on the stove, to combine with are only cold running water.I slept on our water bed , this time above the covers, in my sleeping bag, surrounded by a cat or two, I got ready for work, by LED lamplight, and missed the heat in my house , and the hot water alot. I felt unshowered, and tired,and I was. I was also a little annoyed that the neighbor had electricity, and we had none, damn it.

I drove to work,Friday night. It was another surreal event, I and the full moonlight were the only light on the road, as I drove, an occasional lone driver would illuminate how ice covered bushes and trees still were in some areas.One road I drove down the trees were bent so far forward, I wondered if they might touch the roof of my little Subaru.I went through several towns where the usual signal lights were out, the funny thing was I still slowed down, just like they were working.I guess old habits die hard. That night the temperatures dropped to 14 degrees.

On my ride home Saturday morning , I got to see those ice covered trees, in the daylight, which didn't make it any less scary, but more so because you could see how thick the ice still was, and how affected everything was by it. I also noticed at the top of trees the stark pointed white tipped branches left behind after all those that had broken off from the weight of all that ice

I arrived home with some necessities, milk, juice, cat food, and bread, as I got out off my car I noticed a white wire, extending from our house to the neighbors, my husband, the jack of all trades,had hooked us up, he used to be an electrician, before he became the boiler repair man. We talked briefly the night before of putting an extension cord, from our house to our neighbors. Well lo and behold, he had done that very thing! I walked over the thick white wire, to be greeted by my son, telling me that "Dad is hooking up the furnace so we would have heat, and hot water!!"

Yay!! Our house had dropped down to 55 degrees, and the mud room was even colder, colder than the temperature in our fridge, where the temperature was rising.By the time I ate my breakfast in my heaviest wool sweater, the heat was slowly rising, the smell of heat is wonderful, if you haven't had it, for a 24 hours or more. I went to bed that morning, in sweats, with a cat joining me for warmth. I woke up in the afternoon, to warmth, and no lights, but no lights, is nothing compared to no heat.
The hoards of candles I had received as gifts, many a Christmas, did us well, as did my little LED lanterns.

That evening at 6:30 precisely, the lights came on, at first my husband didn't realize, because we had turned the lights off, the first day we were without power.
But quickly we got the picture, and celebrated, with pancakes, and bacon. after all I had to work that night .


Doris Madsen said...

enjoyed your account Tracy. i feel very fortunate here in Easthampton that all was business as usual. it's amazing how serious it can be, loss of power, yet at the same time be so beautiful. good to be back at the studio (Tues. and today) - hope to see you this week.

Sandy's Notes said...

We lost our electricity one time during a storm that lasted four days. I gave up on day two and went to a hotel, packed up the kids and some clothes, and we on a mini vacation a half mile away.

I truly understand your missing the daily things we are so lucky to take advantage of. I'm glad you have it all back. I heard MA got a lot of ice, we just got rain down here in CT. Litchfield county got socked though too, many without electricity. We'll see what this next week brings.

Joy! said...

I'm so glad you are weathering it comfortably!

NC was hit with an ice storm 2 weeks before Christmas in 2003, so I can sympathize. Most people in our area didn't have grid power for a week. Lots of people freezing or getting sick/dying from using charcoal grills inside, fridges full of food rotting, neighborhoods full of broken trees tangled with powerlines. It was pretty dreadful, although our biggest loss personally was 5 trees in our yard. We had a little solar electric and gas hot water but no furnace blower. Luckily, our neighborhood got power after 3 days. I hope New England thaws out soon!

Tracy said...

@ Doris thanks, I assumed everyone was as effected as us, then I discovered not so true.
hope to see you too.

@ Sandy I certainly wanted to be somehwre warm, when our first 24 hours passed. There is one town that may not have power until January, there are over 100 telephone poles that have to be replaced.

@ Joyit'll make me plan a little better, there are things , I'll keep plentiful, just in case that happens again.there are still people with out power, and maybe up until January.

Annie B said...

Great account of your experiences Tracy. Smart husband!!
I was blissfully unaware of what was happening all around me until I got a frantic call from my elderly mother in upstate New York that first morning. We got her taken care of, but she had to leave her house for a few days.
Glad all is well for you now.

Cybergabi said...

Wow. What a story! You'd think in a civilized, developed country things like that can't happen. In Germany, around 90% of the wires are below ground, so they are safe from ice storms and such. I don't know about Holland though, but I do know that Jaap had a one-day power outage last year too, even if it wasn't for the weather.

Glad you're hooked up again, and congratulations to Tom. What a useful skill!

Tracy said...

@ Annie i know it was so weird how, some people were affected others were not.

@ Gabi well, there is no escaping mother nature, yes it would be great if the lines were underground like that. that would have made things very bearable, Tom is very handy.