A View from a West Window…

Our household is one of more than 2 million that were without electricity (some still are). When I heard that we were going to get hit with a snowstorm, my first reaction was, “A snowstorm! in October?” I was in complete denial and so I didn’t go grocery shopping.

On Saturday night we lost our electricity. By then the snow was about six inches deep and still coming down hard. Bushes and trees were bent over with the weight of the snow. David had found the candles and flashlights (he was not in such deep denial as I was), so we used those to navigate our way to the bathroom and then to bed.

Yesterday morning dawned bright and sunny, but still no electricity. When we looked out our west window, we saw this:

The town had planted these trees next to the war memorial before we moved here. They’ve gained a lot of height in the three years we’ve been here. It looks like they are lost, with the trunks twisted and broken.

The house held its heat overnight pretty well. We opened all the shades for the solar gain. The temperature did not go below 65 in here yesterday, so we felt very fortunate. We are on town water and we have an insulated hot water tank, so we had still had access to both cold and hot water.

We received a warning in the morning from our town to stay off the roads (oh yes, we keep one corded phone in the house for occasions like this). I did things I’ve been putting off for a while. I sorted through all the paperwork on my desk (what a great feeling!), I changed the sheets on the bed in the guest room, I prepared everything I plan to bring to my book talk tomorrow evening (provided the library has electricity by then–they don’t right now), and I washed dishes the Amish way (you know, with two pans of water, one for washing one for rinsing) and I cleaned the counters.

About mid-afternoon we were feeling rather hungry, so we decided to go to Hadley to see if we could get something to eat at our favorite little restaurant. Closed. So we went to Trader Joes. Closed. Then we went to Atkins Market. Closed. And all along the way, we saw huge branches dangling on the high wires, down trees, and branches littering the snowy landscape. In one case, we saw a tree had fallen on a car. The car’s roof was completely crushed. We thought the car looked totaled. We were heading back home, to see what we could find in our cupboards, when I asked David to go to the large supermarket and just see. We drove up and noticed the store was dark, but people were coming out with bags of groceries. So we went in, and they had just enough light in in the store so we could see what we were buying. People were milling about in the store. Everyone looked as disoriented as we felt, but everyone was polite and there wasn’t the frantic pace that one usually sees in such big supermarkets — in fact it felt quite laid back. They must have had a generator running because the cash registers were working. Everyone seemed very patient with the long lines. It really makes me wonder: if we didn’t have so many things we want to do, would our lives slow down?

When we got home, we ate another cold meal. David then went outside and dug a hole and put in a permanent mailbox, instead of the “temporary” one stuck into an orange five-gallon bucket that’s been there for three years. I am so happy to have this new mailbox! Our goal was to have it in before the snow flies — we almost made it!

When the sun went down, we snuggled on the sofa to keep one another warm and by the light of the candles we talked about days gone by.

In the middle of the night, I awoke and realized our electricity had come on. This morning we are doing all the things we couldn’t without electricity — laundry, emailing, blogging, making Christmas ornaments, and make warm meals. And our solar panels are making electricity again. (We have grid-tied system, so when the power goes out, we cannot use the power generated by the sun.)

Just as I am about to finish this post, we just received another message from the town, saying that much of our town is still without electricity and will be for the next three days. They have a shelter set up in the school gym. They are strongly advising families to not go trick-or-treating tonight.

We had this happen once before during an ice storm when we lived in Vermont — we got our power back before many others did. We invited friends to come over and take showers and have a warm breakfast with us. They did — and as each family got their electricity back, they retreated back into their homes. I missed the Amish-like community atmosphere that had been created for those few short days.

It’s time to open our doors to those who don’t have electricity. They may crave a warm shower, something warm to eat, or just a warm place to visit.

Did you lose your electricity during the storm? If so, what did you do that you wouldn’t have otherwise? What did you not do that you would have otherwise? 

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7 thoughts on “A View from a West Window…”

  1. Quite an ordeal for October! I hope this doesn’t mean a really bad winter…again. last year I thought I was going to lose my mind because of all the snow! So nice of you to open your home to those that may need it. A nice hot shower really makes all the difference when you are without power!
    Blessings, JOanne

  2. I have looked on in amazement at the October snow storm. You were very fortunate to have gotten your power back so quickly. It doesn’t hurt to be foreced to occasionally slow down. Good luck with your talk at the library tonight.

    Several years ago we had a snow/ice storm that brought everything and everyone to a stand still. We were without power at our house for four days. It was heavenly. Since we burn wood, heat was not an issue. We took walks. We played cards. We talked and listened to music. We played guitar, mandolin and sang. We ate lots of soup because that was the easiest to cook on the wood stove. It was crazy good, but I’ll have to admit I was relieved when the power was restored and I could get back to the things I had been putting off for four days.

    Thanks for the reminder to slow down!

  3. We’re lucky that when the power goes out, it usually comes back fairly quickly, usually not more than a few hours. A few years ago we had a snowstorm and were without power all day. We have a wood stove for heat, and were able to boil water at least. We kept ourselves warm shoveling the driveway, then went next door and cleared our elderly neighbour’s drive too.

    That’s very sad about those trees. Clearly they weren’t ready for winter yet!

  4. I very much appreciate this post as my home is in Belchertown and I am on Day 5 without power. I am totally dependent on the kindness of others to survive and have been so blessed. I am staying at my third home this week however I cannot complain because I was stuck in the storm Saturday night and feel blessed to have made it through unscathed (although quite shaken!)

    I am happy you got your power back!

  5. My power (amherst) came back on Sat night, off all day. My parent’s power (leverett) just came back on a few days ago. They are in N.C. and I was suppossed to dogsit for them but since there was no heat or water to shower or a way to cook I am dogsitting the dog at my tiny 1 bedroom apt. fun!
    Did u do the booktalk at leverett? I wanted to go (heard u were having some amish treats!)

  6. Joanne, I’m with you… I hope we don’t have another brutal winter.

    Deanna, we were indeed fortunate to have our power back so quickly. What fun you had when the power was out! It is such a drastic change from having electricity to not having it. But it teaches me to stop taking electricity and modern conveniences for granted.

    And BTW, I did not have my talk the other night. The Leverett Library had no electricity, so we had to put it off. The new date is Saturday, November 12 at 1:00 PM. I need to remember to change that on my schedule.

    Ian, how nice that you were so neighborly to help your neighbor out when your electricity was off. I imagine you are generous anyways, and it helps when life slows down.

    Christine, you are more than welcome to come and use our shower, kitchen, stay overnight, or whatever you need. We had no takers from the people in our town, so we are more than happy to help in whatever way we can.

    Plaingrl, best of luck with your full apartment. Those are the times when “cozy” isn’t so much fun, right?

    Thanks all, for your comments and have a great weekend.


  7. Here I am, catching up on your blog so this was so many months ago! We obviously didn’t have much of a winter – we got most of it in the fall!
    I do dishes the ‘Amish way’ all the time. LOL (Well, I don’t use dishpans – I have a double sink.) I live in a manufactured home that wasn’t designed with a dishwasher and no one who has lived here before we got has had one put in. And while I would really like to have a dishwasher, I don’t want to fork over all the money it would take to have one installed. It would require a plumber and an electrician. So, 14 years now and I’m still doing them by hand. The upside is it’s a good way to warm up when you’re feeling cold. LOL

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