Had I been a descendant of Betsy Ross‘s I might’ve come up with a new flag for our country these last several days. While hubby was enjoying the bright lights and warmth of Seattle, I was hunkering down here in the burbs just trying to keep myself, 3 cats and a dog from going stir crazy…and freezing to death!
The weather forecasts predicted impending doom in the form of snow and ice. What they didn’t tell us was that the ice would turn tree limbs into makeshift spears that were sure to impale if you happened to be out and about…walking your dog…fetching your mail (the post office takes its job seriously!)…or just stepping outside for a breath of fresh air.
So that he wouldn’t miss work, God forbid, my husband opted to join other employees who stayed in a hotel at the company’s expense to ensure they’d be at work each morning. It seemed almost certain that meant 3 nights, which it was.
The first 2 nights were fine since the power was still intact in our area. However flickering lamps and TV images that froze intermittently, should have warned me of imminent darkness and cold.
Refusing to acknowledge the inevitable, I happily ate some cheese and ritz crackers while sipping a small wine glass of White Zinfandel. Aaahhh…the single life, I thought. No cooking big meals. No cleaning up afterwards. Just me, my book, my wine, my pets.
Of course I missed having my other half, but I figured he was better off not commuting back and forth in bad weather. Seeing him stuck on the side of the road because of icy conditions would have had me stressing through the night. Nope. We were both better off doing what we had to do.
My tune hit a sour note when I awoke Thursday morning to freezing temperatures…indoors. OMG! I thought. I can deal with the dark. I can deal with not having hot food. But I sure as heck can’t deal with the cold. Being Hawaiian, I might as well have been standing buck-naked atop Mt. Rainier!
When our power goes, so does Comcast service. No telephone! No internet! And wouldn’t you know it…my cell phone‘s battery was dwindling. After a few calls back and forth to let my husband know I wasn’t happy with my predicament, and to learn how to start a wood-burning fire in the fireplace, I had but one bar left with which I could call for help.
My neighbor came by after I’d asked for assistance in starting the fire, even though I’d called him back to say not to come because a tree in our front yard broke under the pressure of mounting ice. I didn’t want to see him speared like some poor, unsuspecting fish. He came anyway. God bless him. Although he needn’t have because my fire was well underway.
During one phone call to my husband I broke down into tears. I thought I’d put too many fire starter logs into the mix. I was sure the mounting flames would burst through the glass doors. He reassured me that they would diminish, which they did. I felt better. However I was gripped by fear once again when I realized the fire might be dying out, and soon the cold would be back to keep me company. So I stoked the embers, putting on more logs as I retrieved them from the garage.
I must admit to having felt like a pioneer woman who could do just about anything. Until I realized I’d run out of wood. “Could I chop wood?” I wondered more than once. My mind’s eye wandered the property trying to picture any fallen branches that I could easily cut to feed my small fire. “Cut with what?” was my next question.
I just got my back to where I could walk upright, and now I wanted to hunch down over a log, in the blistering cold, sawing back and forth…back and forth? You can imagine I had a few choice thoughts for my hubby. And they weren’t all loving ones either. Needless to say I didn’t roll up my sleeves and pretend I was Ma Kettle.
I watched the last embers of the fire die down. I warmed a can of soup in a crock over a small tea-candle warmer, checking it every half-an-hour. I think it was edible 5 or 6 hours later. I did the same in another crock with a can of Franco-American spaghtetti and meatballs. In the interim I had several more glasses of Zinfandel.
After settling my menagerie of pets down for the long haul, I burrowed deep under the many blankets and quilts I’d laid out on the sofa. I read my book until the last threads of daylight succumbed to the dark night. Lit candles weren’t equal to the task, so I lay listening to the battery-powered radio.
For what seemed like an eternity, I heard voices reaffirming the mess in which our state was mired. A local station was airing “Neighbor to Neighbor,” a program where people called in to tell of their predicament, resourcefulness, or good fortune at having their power restored. In some cases, the deejay offered to find out when electricity would be restored because a caller had a particularly distressed situation. Announcements were also made about locations where listeners could find warm shelter.
I slept fitfully and was grateful when dawn broke. When my husband returned home mid-day Friday, I think I finally exhaled a sigh of relief. But I couldn’t bring myself to get out from under the covers until he got the generator started, and the temperature in our house climbed into the high 60s.
It’s no small wonder I found myself thinking of those who suffer the cold, living on the streets year ’round. How they manage to live on, hoping for a better tomorrow, is unfathomable to me.