Frozen in Time
Like most people in Jackson County, the Boy and I lost power last night. The lights went out just before dark and, as of 11:00 a.m. this morning, power has yet to be restored. Fortunately, we have a propane cook stove so supper was still hot and there was hot coffee to be had this morning. We lit a couple kerosene (coal oil) lamps that have been in the family for generations, fired up the propane heater to keep the chill at bay and settled in for the night. By the light of a battery powered reading lamp, he read to me from a book by one of our favorite authors and after a bit of conversation we turned our minds toward sleep.
This morning, the house was cold but not so cold a bucket of water would have frozen, as would have happened when I was a child.
The house was still and quite last night, the kind of still and quiet that only happens when the power is out. The constant hum that is ever present when the power is on is relegated to the background and we’re not even aware of it until it stops. Then everything goes still and quiet.
Laying in bed last night with my eyes open to the darkness I took a trip back in time. It was always still and quit at night when I was young. We didn’t have much in the way of electrical hum. There was a light bulb in each of our three rooms and we had a refrigerator. After the lights were out the quiet was only punctuated by the occasional sound of the refrigerator running. On especially cold nights, quilts would be hung over the doors to keep the heat of the wood stoves in. Mommy or Daddy one would usually stay up late to get a good bed of hot coals banked in the stove before “putting it to bed.” Bricks would be heated on the wood stove then wrapped on newspapers and towels, tightly so no oxygen could cause the papers to burn. There would be placed at our feet and we’d cover up with multiple quilts. It was warm and toasty in the bed even when the house got cold enough for the water bucket to freeze.
Come morning, the fire would be built up and the water bucket thawed. The gas stove would be lit and soon the smells of breakfast would cut through the chill. I got very good at get dressed under the covers before venturing out to get near the wood stove.
Last night those memories were so close I could almost feel the warm bricks at me feet and when I closed my eyes I felt again the presence of my brothers across the room and my sister beside me. I could hear Daddy snoring and could remember in detail the green ivy wallpaper and the sight of shelves of canned beans and tomatoes lining the wall behind the little pot bellied stove in the bedroom.
It felt like a homecoming and that was welcomed because what I learned then reminded me now that such things as snow and ice and power outages are survivable and that most of us are more resilient than we think we are when faced with hardship. I also learned that most hardship is very temporary because everything changes. In a few more days the ice and snow will be gone and a couple weeks from now the signs of Spring will begin to stir around us.
I wish you all comfort and warmth and patience with one another. Nerves tend to get frayed when faced with unknown circumstances beyond our control. Be patient with one another, with the linemen working through all of this to get out lights back on and especially, with yourself. If you can stand to, step outside and take a look around. The world is cloaked in wonder and beauty now, despite the peril.
Be kind. This too shall pass.