Last Saturday, October 29, 2011 I had my Halloween costume all ready to go. I was looking forward to the Halloween Dance for singles. So was my partner. That afternoon we were shopping at a local shopping center when I glanced out the window of the store and noticed that it had started to snow. It was coming down pretty fast. Since I live in the higher elevations I knew I had to get home. Up my way the roads could get slippery especially since it would be a while before towns could get material on them.
Here it was the weekend of Halloween. The previous Halloween I had no concerns about the weather. I had dressed up as a Vampire. So did my partner. We had a wonderful time. No one recognized us.
This year things would be different. Very different. Once we got home we decided not to go out. Also, the dance was postponed for the next night. We figure that was okay with us. We settled down to watch a scary movie.
Shortly after 5 pm the lights flickered. Then while dusk fell the lights went out. My worse fears realized. Snow falling steadily, temperatures dropping, and no lights, no heat, left in total darkness.
I do keep a supply of lanterns and flashlights. Yet, despite the fact we had some light, lying in bed that night beneath a sleeping bag made for sub zero weather, a sense of isolation also settled upon me.
And of course getting up the next morning in a cold house immediately instills a growing concern of just how long this power outage was going to last. In the back of my mind I knew it wasn't going to be a short duration.
For my area it lasted four days. Four days of ensuring that I had gas in the car's gas tank so I could get to and fro from my sister's place who although she had no power did have a gas fireplace that managed to heat up her condo to a comfortable enough temperature.
Yet, she did not have a gas stove and we found ourselves driving around areas that also had no power, searching for a place that could provide us hot water.
We did go to a local shelter where we were able to get hot water. Slowly, each day as the power was restored we were able to get some hot meals.
It wasn't easy those four to five days. Those in my small group adopted a survivalist mentality. Suddenly, we were focused on only the basics...food, water, and warmth.
We started to envy those who had power either via a generator, a wood burning stove, or one of thsoe pellet stoves. I had none of those things.
I remembered on the second day that I had purchased a kerosene heater a few years back solely for this purpose. Not even out of the box yet we quickly set that thing up.
Still it had its shortcomings, one of which was to run out of kerosene. Also, because of the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning I wasn't going to run that thing for too long a period of time inside my house. Instead we used it to take the chill out of one room, even used it to heat up some water, which took forever.
On the fourth day my power was restored. I called from my sister's and was ecstatic when my answering maching finally kicked in.
Yet I'm sitting here feeling still not quite so settled. In fact when we think about that week without power (six days for her and a friend) we feel as if we had traveled to a third world country. We at times had started to feel like refugees. We felt misplaced, and we felt a sense of a total vulnerability that taught us never to take anything for granted.
During that time we watched a 7" portable TV, we watched movies on a small DVD player, we ate our meals by battery operated lanterns, and we took no showers.
That first hot shower made all the difference in allowing us to feel that things were going to finally get back to normal.
Yet, somewhere inside me I no longer feel that same sense of security I had once felt before this storm hit. I will probably maintain a survivalist mentality. I'm looking into getting those things that will help me get through the next disaster, although I'm not sure if that even that would be enough.
Things are quiet for now. I'm hoping to get back to my writing projects. I think of my story Stormbound which is not available due to the fact the publisher it is with is no longer functioning. My story is in a sense being held hostage by this publisher. Yet, the premise in my story is also that of a survivalist mentality.
And winter hasn't even begun.