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November 23rd, 2017

Powerless

By G. E. Shuman

Most of us unsuspecting citizens in Central Vermont, Vermont in general, and in other New England states struggled through last week’s huge winds and power outages to some degree or other. It’s true that we do experience bad weather here in the North, but that doesn’t normally include 80 mile-per-hour winds. (I don’t remember seeing any weather forecasts foretelling that storm, not that I could have done much about it if they had warned us. I would have watched the storm with some apprehension, if I had known it was coming. I watched it with some apprehension, not knowing it was coming.) Evidently many trees and power lines were no more ready for the big blow that we were. I don’t know about you, but I felt powerless in the midst of it, and before morning I was powerless, literally. So were my family members throughout Vermont and New Hampshire.

We lost our electricity for nearly two days, which was longer than in some areas, and much shorter than in others. It was an unusually long time for the lights to be out in a Barre City neighborhood, but our inconveniences were not all that terrible. We had no lights, obviously, and could not use the furnace, do laundry, run the dishwasher, or, heaven forbid, watch tv or use the cell phones. The wifi was off for those two days, and the cell towers were down for most of that time.

Our Barre house is on city water, so that was good, and our water heater runs on gas, so that was better. For those two days my family, at least, got to take hot showers in the morning, although I took mine by the tiny little light on my cell phone, which, with my old body, is not such a bad thing. (Sometimes less is more.) I had to dress in no-iron shirts for work, even though there really is no such thing as a no-iron shirt. I ate my coffee-less breakfast by that same cellphone light that lit my way in the bathroom. The burners on our gas kitchen stove, in just a few minutes, provided enough heat to take the chill off the house for the day.

We are such creatures of habit. Even though the power was off, each time I entered a room, and even though I had my cell phone in hand, with the little light on, I still reached for the wall light switch, without fail, even though the action did fail. I also went to the cellar at least twice to switch a load of laundry over from the washer to the dryer, stopping halfway down the dimly-lit stairs, in disbelief that I could be so in the dark about the situation, in more ways than one.

I mentioned earlier that my family was somewhat, but not terribly inconvenienced by the power outage last week, and I hope you and yours made it through the darkness without many incidents. To me, some of it was actually okay. We had no lights but did enjoy an evening by candlelight. The furnace wouldn’t run, but it wasn’t very cold outside, and, in fact, the breezes after the big blow were unusually warm. I saved two days-worth of furnace oil in that time, come to think of it. We couldn’t do laundry for a few days, but who likes doing laundry? The dishwasher was dead, but I hate loading and unloading that thing, anyway. And, yes, the wifi and cell towers were out of commission, so we had no evening TV, (We talked to each other instead.) or cell phone service. (We talked to each other some more, instead.)

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