Here on the North Shore of Long Island, New York, things are getting back to normal after Hurricane Irene blew through this past weekend, Saturday and Sunday, August 27th and 28th. Leading up to the storm I figured the weather forecasters were exaggerating and the worst that would happen is that we’d lose power for a few hours early Sunday morning. That and the NY Giants / NY Jets pre-season football game would get pushed back from Saturday to Monday.
We got a bit more than that. Not nearly as bad as it could have been, but four days without electricity really shows you how hooked on modern life we all are. No good, strong South American coffee, hot water for showers or any communication beyond talking to your neighbors. Most of the cell phone service was spotty as well. Once all the food in the fridge went bad, it’s amazing how valuable a warm bottle of Poland Springs or Guinness and a loaf of good French bread became, remarkable.
I live in an old cottage behind the main house pictured below. Lots of character but in the old days… windows were small, very small. Not much light creeps in even on a sunny day. That meant that after Irene passed through and knocked out our power, even by natural daylight it really wasn’t possible to do any Z scale modeling. The withdrawal was tough! For someone who normally hits the hay at 3 or 4 in the morning, without lights trying to go to sleep at 9 or 10 pm was a challenge. Of course waking up early was kind of new for me too… just what to do with a full day in front of me with no electricity?
To fill some time, lots of long walks around the neighborhood to commiserate with neighbors and badmouth the power company… kind of a hobby here on Long Island. We’re the ones who built a nice new shiny nuclear power plant in Shoreham, NY then decided if it ever went critical we’d never get off this island. So it’s now being shut down and dismantled without ever having produced any usable juice and it only cost us six billion dollars… gee, that’s great! The Shoreham-bashing is pretty much regular backyard BBQ conversation fodder around here.
To fill some of our non-electrical time a couple of casual walks down to the harbor with a Guinness or two and some of the aforementioned French bread. Ok, not the worst thing in the world. Cleaning my cottage up as sunlight allowed, picking up lots and lots recently liberated tree branches from the ground and then back to long walks around the neighborhood.
Just a couple of hours ago I heard one of the neighbors call out over the fence “We have electricity!” It’s amazing the things that we take for granted everyday can become the center of our existence once they’re gone. Right off the bat I had to make a really strong pot of coffee, a big pot just in case the power flickered off again. Next was firing up my computers and downloading 4 days worth of emails. Back to normal existence.
The neighbors are having one last outdoor cookout tonight, folks pooled a lot of their frozen food that was thawing and we’re going to put it all on the grill in a few minutes. While I am happy to have the power back, without electricity I got more exercise; I got outside to enjoy some of the last days of summer, had a Guinness or two down by the harbor and got to bed at a civilized hour each night.
I should try to incorporate a few lessons from the Hurricane Irene blackout into my (now) well illuminated days and nights.