Trying to cook pasta over a one-burner Coleman stove by the light of a 40-year-old propane camp lantern proved to me I’m not ready to go off the grid.
Not even for 24 hours.
“I can’t believe I ever read by that light,” I told my cat. Furby and I were alone for the adventure, Barbara having driven off in the early snow for Atlanta.
Furby declined to comment.
Our power went off somewhere around 4:00 and was off about five hours. Amazingly, that’s the longest it’s been off in my neighborhood in years.
I felt pretty good about living in Commerce Sunday night. I listened to my scanner as fire departments all over the area were dispatched to help clear roads from fallen trees. City public works and electric employees worked all day and well into the night, and firemen were often summoned to two or three different locations at one time. Police went from accident to accident, stopping occasionally to block off a road because of downed trees or an accident ahead. While most of us sat at home and watched nature’s display, a lot of people worked through it on our behalf.
I went out a couple of times for photos. Mostly, though, I listened to our public workers being summoned, kept the bird feeder stocked and tried to prevent the cat from escaping into the Great White Adventure. I stalked about the house, automatically flipping light switches on as I entered dark rooms.
I’d deluded myself into thinking I was prepared for a few days without electricity. Six canisters of propane, a one-burner stove, a lantern and a little firewood seemed sufficient.
I’m not among those who believe in a Great Cataclysm — possibly stemming from the economic crisis — that will result in the end of society as we know it as energy, transportation and food systems break down, forcing us all to cook supper over grills made from old 55-gallon drums. I’m pretty much a pessimist, just not that much of one.
On the other hand, as a former Boy Scout, it seemed prudent to be at least a little prepared to cope for a few days without electricity. I’m spoiled after going how many years — decades? — without a power outage of 24 hours.
More AA batteries, a better auxiliary stove and at least new mantles on the Zebco (surely the only Zebco lantern still in existence) lantern — possibly a new one. A larger supply of firewood, more gas in the tank when bad weather seems imminent. Gas for the chain saw too.
Lessons learned. And lessons remembered. There are always folks out there working to keep us safe, even in snowstorms.
Mark Beardsley is editor of The Commerce News. He lives in Commerce.
For people without power for several days (and those in Madison County who still have no power), the frustration at seeing others with electricity restored can result in bewilderment and even anger.
But when those lights come back on, and we can take stock of just how bad it COULD have been, if the power was out for weeks or months, or even forever, I think most of us can give credit where it is due.
And credit IS due for the firemen, the police, the EMTs, the electric crews and all of the others who were out there in the dark of night and the cold day working hard to keep people safe, working hard to get that electricity restored.
So, even though it took a few days to get my power back on, I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who worked out in the mess and cold to get things back to normal. I know it was hard work (and there probably is still a lot left to do).
And you EMC power line guys, we DO appreciate the long hours and the hard work you do when this kind of thing happens.
I want to say thanks to all the men and women that worked hard at helping restore our lights.
Even though it was fun piling on the bed and reading Goosebump Stories with the kids, by candle light, I loved getting up the next morning to the warm heat and hot water to start my day.
Thanks to the all of your hard work...