Saturday, December 23, 2006

Power Struggle

I recently called BlogMama to propose a topic for her personal blog gratitude365… electricity.

Probably not at the top of your thanksgiving list, but I know over one million people here in the Pacific Northwest have a newfound appreciation for the juice that fuels our overhead lights, garage door openers and furnaces (and a whole slew of other luxuries). While many homes in the greater Seattle area had power restored one, two or three days after the wild wind storm the night of December 14th, we were among the unfortunate few who waited eight days in the dark and cold. Okay, we didn't exactly wait all eight days - the last two nights we stayed in a hotel, but even during those two days the trips home to pick up necessities were chilly and dim.

Living without power has many similarities to camping so the first day or two it was almost fun. During our "camping adventure" we relied heavily on our small woodstove. We used it for heat (the uneven temperatures were frustrating at times), for cooking necessities such as grilled cheese sandwiches and cowboy coffee (water and grounds thrown together into a saucepan and heated to almost boiling), and for entertainment ("Dancing Flames: the Mini-series").

But while I imagined I was Laura Ingalls-Wilder at first, I quickly tired of hauling wood and stoking fires. Those oh-so-important daily toddler routines became impossible and Jeep's moods swung wildly. We tried to be grateful knowing there are so many tougher challenges in life, but patience ran thin all around. The hard-to-penetrate-darkness was the hardest blow for me personally and I felt completely exhausted by 7:30 or 8:00 each night.

This brief challenge brought great respect for pioneers and people who suffer through disasters with losses much greater than the food in a fridge. I am ever so slightly more aware of what is truly important in life (the answer is people, not clean laundry - although clean laundry is very, very nice) and also a tiny bit more aware of all that we take for granted in our easy, electric lives. That being said, the moment the electricity came back on I ran around the house, flipped on every light, turned on the TV, played the radio, cranked up the heat, started the laundry and ran the dishwasher. Ah, the power of power!

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