On life without power

The naming of winter storms by The Weather Channel is a clever marketing trick. Having just endured “Riley” I continue to wonder why nature’s worst storms can’t be given really menacing names like “Hurricane Adolph” or “Nor’easter Manson.”

The lights in Cotuit started flickering around 4 pm on Friday. Every hiccup killed the wifi and rebooted my home office computer, so I packed it in and started hunting for candles and a flashlight and began moving perishables into the freezer and plugging in devices and backup batteries to top them off. By 6 pm things were getting hairy outside — that’s when the airport in Hyannis reported a peak gust of 90 mph which is more than enough to bring all civilization to end on Cape Cod  — but still the lights hung in there.

I went to bed with power but woke to a dead house on Saturday. The coffee maker was useless but the gas range still worked and I boiled up some water to brew some lapsang souchong (the tea that smells like marline, my favorite nautical smell of all time. I had a ton to do on the computer over the weekend — writing, etc. — but blackout called for a quick change of plans so I started cleaning out the boat shop, sharpened the chainsaw, did a dump run and generally stayed outdoors in the daylight while it lasted.

Obsessive checking of Eversource’s outage map did nothing to give me hope of a fast restoration. Barnstable was marked deep purple which meant most of the town was blacked out, but Scituate and other towns on the south shore were 100% dead. Still I checked and checked and when the sun set around 5:30 I settled in on the couch and squandered a couple hours of precious Thinkpad juice on a downloaded movie by candlelight.

In bed by 9 and at first light on Sunday woke up, rolled over and nope, no power. So Sunday was spent sawing the downed black cherry tree into manageable segments, running to the dump one more time, and finishing the clean up of the shop. I took a stroll down Main Street to check out the damage, snapped some pictures of more downed trees and came home wanting a shower having not had one since Friday morning. I turned on the shower, ready to do some cold water screaming because there was no way I could go to work looking and smelling like a castaway, but lo and behold there was enough hot water to get a quick and comfortable shower.

Again the light started to fail, so I turned to YouTube to listen to Dylan Thomas recite “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” which thoroughly bummed me out and made me feel old and mortal.

I managed to cook a hot dinner, pour a scotch, and get settled in on the couch as darkness covered Cotuit. Utility trucks convoyed past on Main Street, yellow lights flashing, and lo, the street lights on School Street flickered on. But not for me. Outside the drone of generators spoiled the total silence of the house. Nothing beeped or whirred. The icemaker was quiet. The dryer wasn’t bouncing my loose pocket change around. It was just me and a snoring dog, the hum of the neighbors’ generators and me, staring at the outage map and getting no satisfaction.

So I went to bed in the dark for the third night in a row.

Author: David Churbuck

Cape Codder with an itch to write

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