Powerless

Michigan weather is a tricky thing.  There are several months in the year where the temperature can vary by forty or fifty degrees – not just in a month or week, but sometimes in a day. There are glorious, sunny days.  There are days when it’s so humid, going outside feels like stepping into a sauna.  There’s snow and rain, sometimes on the same day. There are also straight line winds and tornadoes.  While it’s lovely when there’s a light dusting of fluffy, white snow, there are also ice storms that cover everything with a thick layer of icy shellac.  This winter has been no exception, the most recent event was a day of wind gusts up to sixty miles per hour. 

If you’ve not experienced this type of wind (which I heard was of the velocity of a category one hurricane), let me describe some of what happened.  Giant evergreen trees were uprooted.  The kids water table was flung across the yard and landed upside down in the raspberry patch.  One of our small buildings completely tipped over.  The kid’s fort was ripped out of the ground and lies crumpled in a heap.  Doors on the second floor of the barn and granary were ripped open and nearly ripped from their hinges.  A piece of plywood being used to cover a hole in the barn was blown across the yard and when I tried to carry it and tuck it back inside the barn, I feared I might become airborne and had to call out for assistance.  And the worst?  The bucket I’d been using to hold pet waste was flung far out into the field, it’s contents scattered across the lawn for me to pick up again.

It will take a few people to get this right side up again

Not sure if this is fixable

The power went out on a Wednesday afternoon around 2:00.  At first it was no big deal – the thermostat kept dropping and by bedtime was down to fifty-nine degrees.  I bundled up, tossed a sleeping bag over my blankets, and hopped into bed.  By morning the temperature had dropped another eleven degrees, so I quickly dressed and cared for the chickens, then headed out to run errands (like buying pastries), confident that the power would be back on when I returned later in the day. Unfortunately, the power outage affected over 1.2 million people in Michigan and even though crews were called in from other states, the power remained out.

When bedtime rolled around on Thursday night, the temperature was forty-eight degrees.  Along with the sleeping bag, I issued an invitation to Hannah to join me on the bed.  I curled my body into a C, keeping her warmth dead center.  When we woke on Friday morning, it was a balmy forty-one degrees. After checking on the chickens, I headed to a relative’s house to warm up and figure out some next steps since the temperature was predicted to drop down to the teens overnight.  Since several family members live in the area and were affected by the storm, most of us ended up at this relatives house.  It was kind of fun at first, cooking a big meal and hanging out with everyone, but by the time Friday night came, I knew Hannah and I could no longer stay at our house – we would need to seek shelter elsewhere.

Fortunately, my Mom lives fairly close by and she was happy to let Hannah and I come over.    As much as I enjoyed spending time with my Mom and appreciated her tolerance of Hannah, I longed to be home.  Surely the power would come back on soon! It didn’t happen Friday, it didn’t happen Saturday, and by Sunday, though some relatives had power, it was still very dark and cold at the farm.  Creative attempts to keep the chicken’s water from freezing failed so various relatives alternated taking trips to the farm to make sure they had water to drink.  On Sunday, a notice was finally posted that power would be back on by 11:30 pm on Monday. 

Hannah loves my Mom so much!

It finally came back on around 3:30 in the afternoon on Monday.  After one last dinner with my Mom, Hannah and I loaded up and headed back home.  The furnace was working hard and the temperature had already climbed to sixty-six.  When I got into bed that night, however, it was like climbing into a refrigerator.  The temperature had dropped to twenty-nine degrees over the duration of the outage and while the air temperature was in the sixties, the furnishings had not yet reacclimated.

This was the longest I’d ever been without electricity and while I didn’t actually suffer (sleeping in forty degrees doesn’t count as suffering, even though it was a bit uncomfortable), I found that I was rather cranky about the whole thing.  My frustration wasn’t with the power company – they were clearly working as hard and as long as they possibly could.  Initially I thought the source of my frustration was that I wasn’t home.  While I feel very welcome and comfortable at my Mom’s, it wasn’t home.  It’s not even that I missed my stuff or my bed or whatever, it was that I missed my routine.  At home I can do whatever I want, stay up late, sleep in, eat what I want, tromp around the field, play with my dog, putter, and have all my stuff handy in case I might want or need it.  When I’m at other people’s homes, even for just a few days, I don’t always know what to do with myself.  It’s difficult to just be there without all my familiar distractions and things I like to do.  It’s also a little uncomfortable to infringe upon someone else’s hospitality.  I know you didn’t invite me, but can I take up residence in your house for a few days? 

Now that I’ve had more time to reflect, however, I think what I really missed was the false sense of control that I believe I have over my life.  It’s pretty funny that I believe I actually have control over anything other than my own choices.  Surely I’ve had enough experiences in my lifetime to know that I’m not in charge of the world, even though I sometimes believe that if I was in charge, we would all be a lot better off!  Ha, how egoistical is that?!?! 

With any luck, there won’t be any extended power outage any time soon and I can go on pretending that I am in charge.  Or maybe I could just accept my role as human and let God be in charge of the rest.

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