Sunday, December 14, 2008

A little earlier tonight, three days almost to the hour after the power went out here, our lights blinked on, the fridge and freezer revved up, and our ultra-quiet, intimate, shadow-filled evening by candle and lamp light ended.

Others here in New Hampshire will not be so fortunate. Public Service of NH estimates that some customers will not have their electricity restored until Thursday or, perhaps, Friday.

When got back here from New York on Friday early in the afternoon, I had to pick my way around road closures due to fallen trees, utility poles and live wires. Signs of ice on trees and bushes began with a light coating in northern Connecticut that was pretty but not dangerous. As I passed through Worcester, MA, radio news was speaking of how hard the city had been hit by the ice storm, with no electricity anywhere. As I got further north into Massachusetts along route 495, shattered and downed trees became common.

When I pulled off route 93 in Derry, NH, there was no power anywhere. Amazingly, the big Shaw's supermarket was operating with emergency lights, so I stopped in to buy a twelve pack of one-liter bottles of water. From there I had to pick my way around police barricades closing roads for power lines and trees across the roads on route 102 toward home. And when I got there, this is what I saw:

The sun was out, brilliantly illuminating the ice-glazed trees. This is the road up to the house.

There was one heart-breaking loss. One of the more than hundred year old sugar maples that surround Fritz's parking lot, from which we get sap for boiling down into syrup, lay shattered on the ground, having taken two picnic tables out with it. When the weather moderates next week, we'll get the chain saws out and begin cutting and stacking it to season for next winter's firewood.

We were luckier than many households, as we have the Aga stove centrally placed in the house: 1400 pounds of cast iron gently radiating heat like a Russian stove and still in operation because the propane tank doesn't require electricity to supply the stove. The house is super-insulated and built for maximum solar gain. We also have a wood-burning stove in the great room. Heat and cooking weren't a problem, but the pump in the well was non-functional. We set buckets under the eaves to catch water melting off the roof to use for flushing our toilets (we later realized we could bail some water out of the hot tub to do this, as well). We broke out the oil lamps and candles and settled in for the duration.

By this morning, I remembered that a couple of aluminum pie tins were in the recycling bin and rigged up some reflectors for one of the lamps and a candle. This was our dinner table this evening--very Little House on the Prairie, no? Shortly thereafter, the power came back. I celebrated by running two loads of laundry and and a dishwasher load. And tonight before bed--a hot shower!

I couldn't be happier. For your safety and that your power is bac on. I've been thinking of you guys.
Those photos are simply beautiful buddy :-) We are just getting light dusting of frost here at the moment but it makes for some nice photos also.
Sorry about the maple. The ice just melted off the trees here from last Tuesday. Finally.
I was wondering how you guys fared. My family was fine- they're all right on the coast and got rain only. Glad to hear your power is back on. The pictures are very pretty.
As dangerous as ice storms can be, I love that they can often force us into survival mode. No electricity also enables us to interact with each other in a much more profound way.

Living in an old victorian house, I often turn everything off and light the oil lamps... just for the experience. I love it!
Actually sounds like a romantic little weekend, candle light, a cold night to snuggle close, of course the shower is always a nicety.
I too was thinking bout you two when I heard about the weather there.
I am glad you two are cheerful and doing OK.
Thanks, guys for your concern. It was at most an inconvenience for us because this house gives us resources so many others don't have.

My big issue remains with the power companies: how many millions (billions?) over the years have you spent repairing the damage every year to power lines? WHY don't you put the lines UNDERGROUND??? That would put a stop to this idiocy once and for all.

anonymous--yes, it was in many ways a wonderful time; very quiet, just us, candle-lit dinners with lots of love and laughter.
I was listening to the same complaint about the lack of underground power lines from my daughter last night. Fortunately, she spent this semester abroad, so she wasn't at her school in Southern Vermont, but all of the students there had to be evacuated to motels in Brattleboro because the college dorms lost all power. She had planned to go up there over this past weekend, and it's a good thing her plans changed.

I'm glad you guys used it as an opportunity to cuddle.
Your house sounds so awesome. Love wood-burning stoves. I agree about the power lines. It would be expensive up front, but eventually would probably pay for itself to put them underground.
I was impressed with Mr Carter recently on Charlie Rose. My father is 94 so that is encouraging.
Hope you will be warm and safe this Christmas.
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