Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Loss of Power

For Sunday, August 28, 2011

When they don’t go so far as to harm people or property, storms are pretty cool. The sky darkens, the rain comes in sheets, the wind gusts and makes those big pine trees around our house dance. I love to be reminded of the power of Mother Nature. No matter what people have planned, every so often, She tells us. “NO! Hold on! I’m in charge here!”

I knew we’d lose power during Hurricane Irene which by the time it reached us was now a tropical storm. I was hoping it would not be quite so early in the afternoon, but knowing how frequently we lose electricity here in our neighborhood, I was not very surprised to have it cut out at 1:00pm. We got the flashlights out and within an hour, I enticed Paul to play a board game with me. By hour two, I had everyone playing Monopoly.

We set up the game and ate salsa and tortilla chips. We bought up properties and made trades. We collected rent, passed GO, and collected $200. One moment I was getting sympathy from Emma for barely having $50, then, before long, I had everyone mortgaging properties to pay the cost for landing at my hotels. My luck changed as quickly as the winds had shifted outside in the morning’s hours.

As we went into our fifth hour without power, we began finding our next means of entertainment. Books were chosen, computer games were played while the laptops still held a charge, and we took a few minutes to clean the kitchen counters while we still had daylight. I texted my daughter and my sister to see how they were faring and planned on turning in early. At least I’d be getting adequate amounts of sleep prior to having to return to work on Tuesday!

My sister asked me what we were doing for dinner. I decided to ask Eric if he wanted to fire up the grill. So as he got the charcoal ready, I sliced up potatoes to place in foil with onions and then chopped up peppers, carrots, summer squash, and zucchini to broil in our grill basket. We threw on a couple of steaks and enjoyed the feast as the sun went down.

Emma and Paul started drawing and writing comic strips together. They giggled upstairs and Eric and I read by candlelight while the puppy rested by our feet. I started reading of women in their 40s who had made major changes in their lives in response to grief and was both awed and strangely saddened by their awareness that their journeys had taken them down these unfamiliar paths after September 11, 2001 or the death of a young child. Tragedy does not discriminate. It touches so many and in many different ways.

As the house began to fall silent and everyone began to head to bed because there seemed to be “nothing left to do”, I remembered what I had thought about earlier in the afternoon, that Mother Nature takes charge at times to remind us that She is in charge. The lights will most likely come back on later tonight or tomorrow. The sun will rise and we’ll probably see the sun. A loss of power today (both in terms of electricity and in changing our day’s plans) was by no means a terrible event. No lives were taken, no futures were altered, no tragedies befell us. The only loss of our power had been in the form of electricity. We’d held onto the power to play, to eat, to relax, to cook, to share a dinner, to laugh, and to be reminded of how very lucky we are. As in a game of Monopoly, I know my luck can change anytime, but I will not worry what the weather will bring for tomorrow. I had today. And it was lovely.

Update: With sensitivity to those more harshly affected by Hurricane Irene...I am accessing the internet from work this morning. We have now been without power and water at home since 1pm Sunday afternoon. I have completely rethought the whole "lovely" idea... it's now very OLD. Dear electric company...Please fix our neighborhood's downed power lines.

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