Our Suburbicane Story: Hamburgers By HeadlampOctober 30, 2012
Another October, another wretched suburbicane. Last Halloween, we lost power for 6 days, and I lost my mind after the first 2 of them. When Sandy was due to hit, I knew we’d be in for it again and I still haven’t gotten over last year’s storm trauma. Yesterday was better because there was no snow, but I’ve never heard wind like I heard last night, and listening to branches hit the sides of my house while watching trees bend prostrate to the ground is an experience I don’t need again.
The schools closed on Sunday night in anticipation of the storm, and I started to get the house prepared around noon, as soon as it was obvious this wasn’t going to be a drizzle and a breeze. I filled tubs and buckets with about 20 gallons of water because the electric in my house controls everything–the well and the toilets, in addition to the obvious necessities: heat, lights, and my phone charger. I put a pile of batteries, candles, headlamps, matches, and flashlights on the counter, and with help, I brought in the patio furniture. I drove to Canada to get gas and track down more batteries (no luck on the latter). I bought bagels, peanut butter, and wine. You know, all the important stuff.
When the real rain and wind started on Monday afternoon, we were set. I told Henry to watch as much TV as he could swallow because when we lost power, the electronics would be out for days, so we chugged Disney while I finished some work on my laptop. To him, this hurricane business was a sweet deal.
At 5:00, we still had power, so I decided to cook something. Basically, we gorged on electricity as long as we could. Henry turned on all the lights, we watched movies while the branches hit the house, and I baked french fries and nuked edamame. Then I had a hankering for a hamburger, but I didn’t want a burger from the stove, so I leashed myself to the house and went outside in the hurricane to grill up some cheeseburgers. That was blustery.
We got the food on the table and shortly after, the lights went out. As anyone knows, the best thing to do when you have dinner in front of you in total darkness is to strap on a headlamp and eat like a miner. We spelunked burgers and fries (and edamame) while the wind howled and Henry gave me an oral report on Judy Moody.
Obviously, Henry was completely terrorized by the storm.
Once you’ve had dinner, there isn’t much to do with a second grader in the dark besides drain the battery on the iPad. The fire was raging in the fireplace, and Henry read more Moody by headlamp while I finished Running With the Kenyans on my iPad (review forthcoming). Then he played Temple Run while I worried about my roof under the canopy of pine trees that made me buy the house in the first place. By 7:30, we were bored of the iPad and there was nothing to do but sleep while the embers glowed and the house shook. This must be what it was like to be a pioneer in the suburbs.
For his part, Henry loved every second of the night. He wore a headlamp, gorged on screen-time while he could, and got to sleep on a sofa bed in front of the fireplace. I was less enthused about the whole enterprise, particularly when I had to clear a drain at the back door while standing in 3 inches of water, check that drain a few times in the middle of the night, and turn off Verizon’s thoughtful You-Have-No-Internet!!! alarm at 3 a.m. Despite all that stuff, I will say that the first night without power is kind of fun in the glamping style of roughing it. And because of all that stuff, I got up groggy but proud that I got my house and my Henry through a hurricane.
It’s the nights after the first night that lead me to the arms of a straight jacket.
As of this afternoon, National Grid was still “Assessing Damage” and had yet to assign a crew, which means no one is doing anything about my power. But I’m grateful to have no real damage to my house, no terror like was felt in NY and NJ, and to have friends to graciously let me impose for a warm house, hot meal, sofa-less bed, and running water tonight.
It’s occasions like this that remind me how much of my life is a luxury, that running might feel like a requirement for my survival, but honestly, it’s the icing. I’m so fortunate to have a blessed and full life, a life with my needs met, a life that is neither spoiled nor wanting, neither entitled nor in need. It’s days like yesterday that make me pretty proud of what I’ve built for myself.
Even with the lights out, I can see my blessings. And with my headlamp, I can find the corkscrew.