I cried tears of joy when I heard that big boxy furnace finally purr to life after nearly 72 hours of icy silence. Tears. But this week’s story doesn’t end there.
That Michael Landon sure did make it all look so romantic, didn’t he? Life without modern convenience. Ah, yes…simpler times when the crackle of a fireplace was grade A entertainment, back when families were free from all the jarring fuss and hullabaloo of our city mouse ways. I admit, when the storm blew out our power last week, it was just like Little House. We were as cozy as a coterie of prairie dogs all huddled together in our quilts reading Christmas books aloud and dining on the fridge’s perishables by candlelight. We chatted over puzzles and play dough and washed the dishes by hand. We got into our 72 hour kits and donned our headlamps and felt down right adventurous!
But the power didn’t come back on straight away after we were done feeling all adventurous. The warmth of our cozy cottage soon seeped through our modern insulation and out into the frozen tundra, lost forever. The fridge began to stink. We wanted hot chocolate and there was no way to heat the water. Was every single appliance in my house electric?? How could I have overlooked an alternative heating source in all our emergency preparedness?! Note to self: You are grumpy when you are cold! Little House didn’t warn me how grumpy I’d get if I couldn’t be sitting 8 inches from a roaring hot fire!
Our neighbor’s heat and power returned soon enough the next day, but because the storm had blown our 60 ft pine tree down onto the power lines, tearing off our power meter with it, ours took a little longer to get up and running. I’ll spare you our whole “how the tree caught fire on the power lines and for the first time in my life I dialed 911″ saga. Suffice it to say, it took a long time to fix. (When you’re cold, days are like dog years.)
But now we come to the part Mr. Landon and Miss Ingalls portrayed spot on: the overwhelming kindness and sense of community that exists in a small village. Each day we were without power, several neighbors either called or dropped by to check in on us. Many offered us shelter and even let us campout in their basements overnight. And finally, by the end of day three, our house powered on! (The rumble of a good furnace is one of my favorite sounds in the world. Right up there with toast popping.)
But remember that behemoth of a tree that blew over? Well it took two other trees down with it and the whole disaster made a big ol’ mess in our backyard. We didn’t know how we were going to tackle all that arbor and haul it away. I was ready to toss a sign out on the curb that read: “Free Christmas garlands, BYOC (Bring your own chainsaw.)” Our young family did what we could and after hours and hours of elbow grease, we had a four foot high stack of boughs strewn out along our front curb, in hopes that someone from the city would whisk it all away. They didn’t come. The whole thing was overwhelming. Then the weatherman said another storm was acomin’! With high winds!! Plus snow!!
That’s when dozens of friends and neighbors, a few whom we had never even met before, showed up on our driveway with their work gloves, trailers and chainsaws at the ready, eager to make light work of the piney, paralyzing task at hand. “Let’s get this taken care of before the storm tonight!” was their no-nonsense cry. It was a privilege to work along side such good people. Salt of the earth. We were done in a couple of hours.
Note to self: We now have an alternative heating source: a stack of pine logs so high, it’s enough to last us a few more storms, plus enough to share.