Sunday, December 11, 2011

When the cord snaps

Last night I was once again impressed with how easily the thin cord of civilization can be severed. So much depends on those wispy little power lines snaking in from the outside world. Last night, about 1800, they failed.

This is not an unusual thing out here, but I have gotten in the habit of calling it in immediately, since the phone company's line batteries tend to go out very quickly. I keep a little old-fashioned line-powered 'phone handy for just such occasions, even though I can hardly hear the other party. My power coop is aces, and no matter the problem they hustle to get it solved.

About an hour after the juice stopped flowing I fired up the fireplace, since the temp was dropping rapidly from about 28°. I lit the oil lamps, unplugged computers, the VCR and the TV, and settled into a rocker with the iPad for some reading. This was the first time I had the iPad during a power failure and glad I was to have it. The backlight makes reading a delight— reading with oil lamps is not what it's cracked up to be in books about the Good Old Days— and the 10+ hour battery is a comfort. (If you just listen to music on it it will last a lot longer. Sixteen days by one test.) I read from Richard Harding Davis's war correspondent writings until about midnight when I pulled out the couch-bed in front of the f/p and the dogs and I sacked out.

The power popped back on at 0230 this morning and I restarted the furnace. The temp was 15° outside but the house temp had only dropped to 66°, even though I had let the fire go out after we went to bed, thanks to all that good insulation.

I never started the genny. Didn't see the need.

There's nothing like a power failure to bring home how much we depend on that wired-in juice. Just about everything comes to a screeching halt when it fails, especially if it's after dark. It's probably a Good Thing that it happens from time to time to keep us humble. And to remind us to know where the flashlights are and to keep plenty of lamp oil on hand. We live on a thin crust wherever we happen to be.