An hour later all was calm. And dark. We went back to bed figuring we had some branches in our yard, but no big deal.
We woke to sunlight, calm and an eerie silence punctuated by birds chirping and the whine of chainsaws.
We still didn't have any power, otherwise everything seemed okay. Then I glanced outside and gasped. This (controversial) metal pergola I'd built by our pool was now a mangled mess against the fence.
In our woods several trees were down. I figure the guys who came out here marking dead trees probably had enough wood in their own backyards now and won't come back to cut ours, but if not, they're welcome to this mess.
I had to get the kids to the dentist Wednesday morning and driving there was a maze of detours and downed power lines and trees. We saw barns flattened, roofs sheared off, trees uprooted, trailers and trucks flipped and smashed, insulation and furniture and debris scattered everywhere. (Official account here.) The lines of cars at restaurants just past the downed power grids stretched into streets as people jockeyed for coffee and hot food.
We returned home and I felt blessed because our damages were so minimal. We had a pool for cooling off and cleaning up. Sure, we couldn't flush any toilets, but our construction project site boasted a porta-potty! I'd caught up on laundry and had a battery powered radio to listen to NPR. We had books to read, a charcoal grill for food prep, and a roof over our heads. We had enough water, mild weather and candles for nightlights. To preserve our food our meals were thoughtfully and strategically planned around once-a-day forays into the fridge. When you're talking preservative temperatures, seconds matter.
But "camping" out only seems like an adventure for so long before you can't stand the smell of yourself (body odor + OFF + musk of charcoal smoke) and you're anxious because you're fretting about where to charge your cell phone (dentist's reception area, dojo, husband's office). Disconnected is a mixture of peace and quiet with overtones of worry when you haven't planned for the event.
Thursday afternoon Mr. D scored a generator and our kitchen became a zoo of extension cords so I could plug in fridge, basement freezer and one other thing at a time--in turn a cell phone, coffee maker, lamp, ipod.
What is necessary isn't always essential.
Thursday night I showered at Mr. D's office and rejoiced at how I felt. I forced myself to shrug off what emails or phone messages I might be missing and focus on the goodness of a working fridge and no spoiled food. Slowly our town illuminated Thursday night, but our intersection was still a mess. From both directions leading to our house power lines were down. Five barns between our house and the highway had been flattened. People a quarter mile away had power lines draped across their houses, yards and mailboxes. You can see exactly where this storm ripped its fiercest path--and it barely missed us.
I discovered that I longed for just one working outlet where I could alternately plug in a coffee maker or a washing machine. Living like a pioneer when one isn't set up for it is awfully inconvenient. But at least we didn't have to contend with flooding or locusts.
Friday night I had plans to go to a concert with friends. Mr. D was out of town and I'd fed Team Testosterone and arranged for their ability to reach me in case of emergency. I had my phone charged, the generator topped off with gas for Team Testosterone's comfort (TV, fridge, Ipod) and a cooler full of beer and ice to greet my guests. As I stood by a window applying mascara, I heard a man's robotic voice proclaim "The time is twelve-forty-five."
The heavens opened, angels sang, we rejoiced and ran around flushing toilets. Powerless to empowered with the flick of a switch, the connection of a wire, the efforts of utility crews.