Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Real Ice Queen

You know that cliche that says we usually don't appreciate what we have until it's gone? I'm getting a painful reminder of the truth of that statement as the fifty-first hour without power in my home has now become a reality.

I drove home from work at ten o'clock Thursday night as the ice storm was just hitting its stride here in New Hampshire. Striding into the house confidently, I told my wife, "It's really not that bad out there. The roads aren't even slippery yet." That was roughly an hour and a half before the power crapped the bed. It hasn't returned since.

We awoke Friday morning to a world of beautiful devastation, as a thick layer of perfectly clear ice coated every outdoor surface, reflecting the light and making it look as though the scene had somehow been dipped in crystal. All night long I had lain in bed listening to tree limbs lose the battle against the steadily increasing weight of the ice, falling to the ground with one loud crack! after another.

A look out the kitchen window revealed a string of good-sized trees and branches down in the back yard, but it was a couple of hours before my wife took a step out the front door and froze in mid-stride as she took in the sight of a full-grown hardwood tree lying on the ground in our front yard, split right down the middle by the relentless ice, one side falling to the east and the other falling to the west.

We're luckier than many in this area, though, as we are fortunate to have a generator, allowing us to maintain power to the furnace, water pump, refrigerator, and a couple of other circuits for lights, etc. Temperatures in New Hampshire tonight are in the low teens, meaning any people without the ability to generate heat in their home have almost certainly been forced to evacuate, many congregating in the local high school gym.

Some roads remain closed due to fallen trees and/or power lines making them impassable; it's an eerie sight driving around after sunset and seeing whole neighborhoods completely enveloped by darkness.

Slowly but surely power is being restored, but it could still be several days to as much as a week before all customers are back on line, according to the power companies. I very much appreciate my good fortune - we purchased our generator less than two years ago and it has become just about the most valuable thing we own right now - but still, I am more than ready for this big adventure to be over.

Just to be clear, I promise never to take Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison, Michael Faraday, Georg Ohm, George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, or any of the other people who have done cool stuff with electricity for granted ever again. Scout's honor. Cross my heart and hope to die. Well I don't really hope to die, but you know what I mean.

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