Monday, October 29, 2012

Talk about the weather

Storm a' brewing over the mountains last spring.
There’s nothing like a big storm a’ brewing to stir up excitement and get folks talking about the weather. All around town this morning, Hurricane Sandy has been the topic of conversation and uncertainty. How windy will it get? Will the storm blow back out in time for Trick-or-Treating in two days? Will we lose power? Did you hear about all the schools closed in Massachusetts and the roads closed in Connecticut?

Everybody, it seems, loves a storm… as long as they know they’re out of harm’s way. And that if the power goes out, it’s only for a day or so. In the relative safety of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, the anticipation of a big windy storm is more welcome now, in this otherwise weather-boring time of year, than during the frigid winter (unless the winter storm brings lots of powder snow, of course). No need to worry about frozen pipes – or frozen toes. As long as your loved ones and your home are safe, it’s something awesome to behold the power of nature from the safety of your living room.

At our house, we have the pots and the bathtub filled with water. The flashlights and candles are ready to go. There’s a fire set in the fireplace just in case. The cupboards are filled with peanut butter and pasta enough to last days, and I have the reserve coffee-making system in place (my priorities are clear).

I think it’s a sense of self sufficiency that makes us feel as giddy as we do nervous when a storm is brewing. It’s sort of fun, in an adventuresome kind of way, to lose power for a few hours, or a couple of days – as long as you’re prepared. It feels romantically old-fashioned to eat by candlelight and gather quietly in front of the fire. Reading by flashlight in a quiet house is better than watching the crap on television, anyway.

We know, however, that when an entire region loses power, it’s the folks up here in the boonies who have it restored last.

When our oldest two children were infants, our electricity went out for a few days in April. We gathered in the living room, blocking off cold drafts from the rest of the house with blankets hung in the doorways. We slept snuggled together on the floor, waking every couple of hours to feed the fire – or the two babies.

In those short few days, trapped inside, I read more than I had read in months. There was little else to do, with the rest of the house shut up, unable to run the vacuum or the washer, no power to boot up the computer, and two babies who needed very little entertainment. By day four it was getting a bit tiresome to keep the babes and their mother clean without running water. And then the sun came out, the power came back on, and we went outside to enjoy the rain-washed landscape, the sounds of the chirping birds of spring mingling with the chainsaws of the line workers still clearing trees to restore electricity to neighbors.

This morning, only an hour south of home, schools were closed for the impending storm. Just over two hours’ drive away, Boston, according to news reports and Facebook postings, was virtually shut down today. But here, the other parents I spoke with this morning as we dropped our children at school were hoping to see some form of storm, something to shake up the day-to-day routine just a little bit, an excuse to unplug and gather the family close.

Everybody loves a storm. But I hope my friends to the south are safe; I hope things stay safe here, too. And if the power goes out, I hope it’s not for long; the novelty wears off after a couple of days.

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