Electricity has returned to my local area and with it cell phones, phones, and the internet, not to mention heat and light. Suddenly I’m living in a different time with hundreds of emails to read.
Two days before the storm hit, I’d been recalled for a second mammogram (suspicious areas requiring further medical attention had been noted) and had planned out how I would deal with the worst case scenario including choosing my health care proxy, writing my will, and obtaining a second opinion. When nothing significant was found, I felt doubly happy for at least twenty-fours and didn’t focus on the coming storm.
The snow was too pasty for a snow blower so I shoveled snow a foot deep from my driveway. Just as I was looking forward to coffee and the Sunday paper, all power vanished. Local stores were closed so there was no hot food or, even worse, coffee. Many tree branches lay in yards and on the road and branches continued to fall during the rest of the day. Some snowy and leafy tree limbs curved down like pitch forks with pointed edges and threatened windshields and paintwork.
After sunset, the temperature fell below freezing. Wrapped in a comforter, I read by flashlight like a kid reading under the bedclothes. The cold and dark reminded me of the book by that name that describes life after nuclear war. The dark’s not so bad but the cold can suck out a body’s energy. Two hours earlier than usual, I went to bed. I woke early, eagerly awaiting the sun and thought of Benjamin Franklin. Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. Maybe that idea had something to do with available lighting.
At least in the twenty-first century, when a few stores opened the next day, we could buy batteries, radios, and hot food. We knew how seriously disruptive the storm was for the area when Halloween was canceled in my town and in other surrounding towns.
The second night I noticed the dark and the silence (no refrigerator hum or furnace sounds). It’s a whole lot easier to concentrate on whatever you’re doing. I could imagine writers wearing gloves as they wrote out with quill pens their imaginary worlds. If my kids had still been small, I imagine the family would have enjoyed greater intimacy and sharing.
I know many people still have no power and I’m not complaining. It was an experience and not a bad one. I’d wondered how vigorously to prune my shrubs. Nature destroyed the weakest branches and I’ll finally have to buy a saw and finish the job. Until now, visions of the chainsaw massacres have kept me from working with a saw. In previous years, I was never sure about the end of the growing season. Today, in this area, it’s ended.
The silence and the dark helped me recapture the ability to focus. I was living in the here and now and I think that’s the way to be when writing.