Over the past weeks, I've seen my Facebook and Twitter feeds nearly fill up with friends and family along the Eastern seaboard talking about first an earthquake, then Hurricane Irene, and now even more raining and flooding. With the exception of the earthquake - weirdness, all around - the thoughts of the nasty weather than can hit the northeast and its after affects has me reflecing on my childhood.
Growing up on Price's Drive in Mountainhome, I remember losing power. A lot. In the spring, in the summer, in the fall, and even occasionally in the winter. While the rest of the Poconos - and even, sometimes, the rest of Barrett Township might be restored - we'd sometimes sit without power for days.
As an adult, I imagine this would be a large pain in the butt. Especially with small children. Who are as used to and spoiled by "modern conveniences" as I am - like a constantly-open refrigerator, satellite television, online games and flushable toilets. (You can't get more than a flush or 2 out of a toilet when the power's out and no water is pumping - did you know that? And you thought your mom was crazy for keeping buckets of water to use - it was to force flush the toilet. Heh! My mom would save every gallon jug on the planet and fill them all with water ahead of storms. We'd have flushing ability for days. Good stuff.)
What I remember, though, is the softer side of bad weather rolled in.
Forget cooking on the stove - break out the sterno. Something about cooking over sterno with it's flickering flame, while rain pounds down around, makes whatever food is being cooked taste all that much better. And speaking of food, getting it was an adventure. My mother stocked our basement like a nuclear attack was inevitable and would make our house the town food bank. I'm. Not. Kidding. But...it was the basement. And with bad weather, there might be water accumulated on the floor, especially if the sump pump wasn't keeping up. So going downstairs to retrieve some of the millions of cans of food could become an adventure.
And the refrigerator! And freezer! Forget this worrying about food going bad after a day or so when the power was out. Ours never did, even after several days. We learned to pack the freezer tightly, so that the frozen foods insultated each other. That thing would stay frozen for a week. The fridge? It became a game. Ok. What do we need for this meal? Make a list. Ok. Remember which shelves those things are on? Ok. Now...3...2...1...GO! And then we'd open the fridge and in 5 seconds or less gather all the necessary things. If something was forgotten, too bad! And hopefully you used up everything you took out, so another door-opening mission wasn't necessary.
And lights - I remember the softer side of lights. My mother thought candles were dangerous. And, considering the klutz that I am, that was probably a wise fear. And flashlights were just plain clunky! So we used hurricane lamps. I. Love. Hurricane lamps! In fact, I still have several in my house that I try to trot out a time or two a year, even though we've never needed them here. A bottle of oil and a bit of wick would keep you lit for quite a long time. You could read books, listen to the radio, or enjoy a game of cards, all by Hurricane lamp.
No video games. No microwaves. No generator - at least not at our house.
Lots of radio listening - was another front coming? Would power come back soon?
Lots of talking - my mom and dad sharing their memories of storms long past.
Lots of reading - Lord knows, I've never had a shortage of books in my life.
Some games, some food, some sheer downtime.
Bad things happy when nasty weather rolls in...but sometimes, there are softer sides as well.
To those who endured or are enduring flooding and damage, those of us in drought-ridden Texas are thinking of you and hoping for the best!