I try not to tackle too many timely topics on this blog, as I don’t want future readers scratching their heads over references that were mere flashes in the pan. I’d rather discuss the things that are cast in iron. Eternal things. Universal things. Things like Jell-O Wars, or Icy Hotting my privates, or where to buy my book: Alchemy. You know, important stuff. But the recent snow storm on the East Coast was so destructive and disruptive, I felt obligated to cover it. I figured since so many were covered in it, and many are still trying to recover from it, it was the right thing to do.
And when it comes to dealing with inclement weather and the power outages it brings, I typically do all the right things. I have 6 propane tanks, 5 gallon water jugs, 4 cans of gas, 3 days of food, 2 emergency exits, and 1 generator. NONE OF WHICH WERE READY FOR THIS STORM! Sure, I heard the reports, but did not take them seriously. I saw the forecast, but did not believe it. In fact, I blithely drove past several gas stations, in the snow, knowing I had less than a quarter tank of gas, yet never even considered stopping to fill up. Had it been December, I would have made sure that, and everything else, was taken care of. But it was October. I still had my lawn furniture and fire pits out, hoping to have another outdoor party or two before winter came. It was 60 degrees the day before. I rode my bike to work. It wasn’t going to snow. And even if it did, it wasn’t going to last.
But winter came like Forrest Gump on Jennie’s roommates robe, only I was the one caught with my pants down. So when the snow piled up and the power went out, I was without my generator, which was loaned out during the hurricane. Not that it mattered, as the fuel cans needed to fill it were sitting empty in my garage. Next to the empty water jugs that we could have used for flushing toilets, along with the broken snow shovel I had planned to replace this season. Inside the house, things weren’t much better. My cell phone was uncharged, Kindle battery depleted, and snack cabinet nearly empty. Even our gas fireplace, which we typically used for ambiance, but could have used for heat, was not working.
We did have plenty of wine, thank god, and we made good use of it to flush our toilets. Just kidding. That’s what the Miller Lite was for! But the wine did help bring a flush to our chilly cheeks. I also managed to find some flashlights and get the fireplace functioning without any major gas leaks or explosions and we settled in for a long winter’s night in the middle of fall.
Speaking of fall, a loud noise from the deck announced that the gazebo I had neglected to winter proof had collapsed under the weight of the snow, and had come crashing down on the outdoor firetable I had also neglected to stow away, while smashing the outdoor chandelier that I had failed to bring in. Are we starting to see a pattern here?
With nothing else to do, I went to bed and awoke the next morning in a 47 degree house. My two-year old and I had fun snuggling on the couch pretending to be dragons with our frosty breath, but the novelty quickly wore off. Reports that the power might be out “for a while” had my wife and I emptying the fridge and packing the perishables in snow. With four toilets in the house, we were all able to claim one as our own and use them without too much discomfort - my brilliant plan of filling Gatorade coolers with snow and using the melting water to flush the toilets had failed, since, well, it turns out coolers are made to keep things cool. But my son had fun making snowballs with it in the living room.
And while our frontier forefathers would be ashamed, after only 24 hours of no lights, heat, water, or internet, we gave up and headed to my wife’s father’s, who still had power, for showers, coffee, and Giant’s football. On the way, we were shocked at the amount of damage we saw. The roads were completely clear of the snow that had started all of this, but were literally covered with downed trees and power lines. It was both awesome and awful to see.
An hour later, from the warm comforts of my father in law’s living room and a belly full of hot soup, I sat and read through the day’s paper and watched the local news reports on the storm, and I have to admit, there was some comfort in knowing that I was not the only one unprepared for it. Even the trees were not ready, as I learned that bare branches and frozen sap helps them withstand the harsh weather. But since there was no time for this to happen naturally, many were destroyed. Compared to them, I was lucky.