Last Wednesday evening, Mr. Gren and I were watching a movie when the lights started flickering. We gave each other a knowing look and made sure we had a flashlight nearby and candles within easy reach. When the lights go out in the country, it’s a complete blackness. We barely finished the movie when the power finally did go out. Time to go to bed! It came back on a couple of times through the night and Thursday morning we woke up to the heaters running. Mr. Gren started a fire and shortly afterwards, the power went out again. This time for good. The sun wasn’t quite up yet, but even with the sun, it stays pretty dark in the cabin with just four windows. We have a box full of votive candles that we bought at Ikea that turned out not to fit in any of our votive holders. But a quick raid of the recycling bin provided enough tin cans (tin cans again!) to hold candles, which we distributed in key places in the house. Knowing it was going to get cold soon without the heaters running, we put a gate on the stairs and kept the kids upstairs in the loft all day. By the end of the day, all of us except Granota were wearing three layers of clothing and a hat to keep warm. I have no explanation for her; she’s nuts.
Outside, things were even more exciting. We had had several inches of snow early in the week, but then Wednesday night the freezing rain started. All the majestic fir trees shrouded in their coats of snow were even further burdened by the layer of ice the rain had created. When we woke up Thursday morning, I commented to Mr. Gren that I had heard rifle shots in the woods. He listened again and said, “No, those are trees breaking.” Treetops, branches, and limbs cracked and broke in a rushing, rattling cascade of needles, ice and snow. It was actually fairly dangerous to be outside, although Mr. Gren and I did have to venture out a few times. The cabin is on well water, so when the power goes, so does the pump. I ran outside several times to fill pots with snow to later melt and use for washing-up water. Meanwhile, Mr. Gren had to make a few trips down to the river with a bucket to fill so that we could flush the toilets. All the while we could hear trees breaking near and far and when the first chunks of snow began to fall, we would hightail it to a clearing as fast as we could. Harder than it sounds when we’re surrounded by trees! It was an eery and disturbing sound. I stood out in a safe spot once and counted seconds between the cracking — trees broke every 5-30 seconds.
As you can imagine, all that damage worsened the power situation. Power lines were being pulled down all over the place, tree limbs were in the roads and then… the rain came. Friday, it rained enough to melt the hold the ice had on the trees. Good for the trees, not good for anyone unfortunate enough to be under them. This time, there were no warning cracks before softball-sized chunks of ice cascaded down, pummeling anything below. Those suckers hurt. One got me on the shoulder as I struggled to tromp through half-frozen snow. All day in the cabin, the roof would rattle and shake; the children would stop playing and run to the window to see and marvel. It felt like we were under siege.
Day number three without power, the wind came. The wind was both helpful and further damaging. Many of the branches that had broken two days earlier had gotten caught high up in the trees, on wires, or on our roof. The wind helped blow many of them down. But with it came more trouble for the work crews who were out night and day trying to restore electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. I don’t envy them their jobs (but maybe their overtime paychecks).
On the fourth day without power, we had some friends who invited us to stay with them until power was restored to the cabin. Really, we had been doing alright up in the loft, dimly lit with candles and an oil lamp. But it was such a relief to be someplace warm, to be able to see, to be able to flush the toilets, and to eat at the table without huddling in coats and stocking hats. Monday morning, Mr. Gren took Rana to school (which had regained power two days prior) and went on to check things at the cabin and was thrilled to find it toasty warm when he opened the door. The heaters had come on! The rest of us returned later that day. It took us some time to resume life as normal. I think we’re finally feeling like we’re back in the regular routine, though. All week I’ve felt like I’ve been playing catch up. So now you know where I’ve been! Next week I’m really going to try to get back on my regular schedule with some actual crafting!