Electricity? I Don't Need No Stinking Electricity! (Sort Of) ... UPDATE: POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
Close friends, immediate family and loyal readers won't be surprised when, with characteristic smugness, I nonchalantly scoff, "Power outage? Was there a storm or something?"
OK, I exaggerate. I'll be very pleased when CL&P crews eventually get around to rewiring my neck of the woods, but for the time being I'm almost as happy living without electricity.
Our house has two wood stoves for heat (plus 10 cords of stored, seasoned firewood), a gas stove for cooking, and an outdoor, wood-fired beehive oven for baking bread or pizza if I feel inclined to stoke it for 10 hours or so.
Before Sandy's arrival I filled two 35-gallon trash barrels with water; if those run out I can get more from the lake. We have a battery-powered radio and headlamps — I gave up on kerosene lanterns after the time I failed to adjust the wick properly and wound up looking as if I had spent a week in a coal mine.
I'll admit that one helpful component of my so-called energy independence is having friendly neighbors with a propane-fired generator who invited me to keep Greek yogurt and other perishables refrigerated — so I guess it would be biting the hand that feeds me if I complain too loudly about the noise from their power source.
Now that the weather is getting colder, though, I may be able to restake my claim on self-righteousness by storing food outside.
Full disclosure: I would be disingenuous if I didn't also admit that the other night I spent a few hours playing bridge and sipping Drambuie in their warm, well-lit house — a short but welcome respite from my bunker-like accommodations nearby.
Even though I like to think I have a Trappist monk-like capacity for asceticism, I'll take advantage of creature comforts when they're offered. As my father used to say, I may be crazy but I'm not stupid (or was it the other way around?)
Still, these few days (so far) without power hardly qualify as harsh deprivation for someone who has holed up nearly a month in a tent at high altitudes while on a mountaineering expedition in the Andes of South America, and who has spent weeks similarly off the grid during hiking and kayaking journeys in Alaska, the Himalayas, the Alps and various other remote locations.
A few years ago I also spent a week as winter caretaker at a mile-high hut in New Hampshire's White Mountains, when the indoor temperature rarely got above freezing and the snow piled up outdoors. By comparison, living in southeastern Connecticut in autumn without electricity is like a vacation in the Bahamas.
So far, the lack of a hot shower hasn't been that much of a problem, since my friend Bob and I still dive into the lake after our morning run. If the outage lasts another week, though, when temperatures dip, we may have to curtail our ablutions and acquaintances may want to stay upwind.
On Thursday morning we ran past the utility pole from which wires that supply our neighborhood snapped Monday afternoon during the height of Sandy's fury. They were still snapped.
"Looks like we'll be out for a while," I said.
Bob made an appropriately profane reply.
Over the past few days I've made a few forays into the modern world, including one to type this dispatch, but I plan to continue holing up at night in our powerless home despite offers of lodging from friends and relatives.
Eventually, if the outage endures, I'll have to recharge or replace radio and headlamp batteries, and at some point I'll have to think about such mundane tasks as laundry, but I'm pretty sure I can hang on a while longer.
Note to CL&P crews: If you're reading this, please ignore the last part of the previous sentence.
TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO EXPRESSED GRAVE CONCERN THAT I WOULD FREEZE OR STARVE, YOUR PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED: AS OF THIS EVENING, OUR HOUSEHOLD NOW HAS FULL POWER. THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME SURVIVE THIS TERRIFYING AND TRAUMATIC ORDEAL.
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