Monday, July 07, 2014
It's so hard to imagine life without electricity. I had an oil lamp, a flashlight, and a book light, creating a circle of light around me. But the quiet is ominous, that subtle ambient noise of appliances and electronics that we don't notice when it's there becomes very conspicuous in its absence. I have nothing battery operated to give me any news. The dogs were restless and stuck by me, nervous without knowing why.
In 1987 the town was without electricity for a week. I had just moved here and knew no one. Again I had no battery radio or anything to tell me what was going on. The newspaper was not delivered. It was a cold January, so I had no neighbors (all the "snowbirds" had gone home). The heat was off, the town looked eerie with woodsmoke the only evidence of life anywhere. I kept a journal then and I like re-reading what I wrote in it at that time. As usual, I was philosophical and enjoyed the strangeness of it all. Later I found out that the poles in Cherryfield that carry electricity to us , well over an hour away in the middle of the blueberry barrens, had fallen like dominoes across the miles of open land. The wind knocked them over like match sticks. That time was an adventure, but this hurricane was only an irritation.
Another hurricane experience was in Florida when Sherillee and I were staying with her parents in New Port Richey. It landed in the middle of the night with a huge bang that knocked out the electricity and woke us all up. I was sleeping on the pull-out couch and Sherillee was in another room. Her parents' room had a huge sliding glass door and we all (stupidly) gathered together and watched the lightning, the heavy rain, and the blowing trees. When it was over, Sherillee and I went out in the car to survey the damage. We found cars and boats washed up on roads and lawns. Florida has amazing storms.
Thinking about hurricanes always takes me back to the very first hurricane I can remember. I was around nine or ten, and we were sent home from school (on foot in those days). I went to my best friend Sally's house where we sat at the formica kitchen table drawing pictures of the storm. The report that the steeple of the Old North Church in Boston had blown down gave me a sudden dose of reality and I felt afraid. In a couple of seconds, though, we went back to our drawing, happy that we were unexpectedly home from school. The pleasant association I have with that day has left me with a permanent kind of good feeling about storms that can't be explained any other way.