Thursday, November 3, 2011

What we take for granted 'til the lights go out....

Here in the modern lands, we've built out lives around a long thin strand of wire and the invisible stream it delivers to us, to our homes and businesses, to our necessities and our amusements, to our comforts and our endless devices.

When the wire breaks we are lost, transported instantly to another world where our daily lives are changed. Instead of a four lane highway - we travel a narrow, unfamiliar foot-path. Everything slows. Everything is dark and getting colder as we fumble for matches, candles, batteries.

At home we learn to work the curtains and furniture for maximum passive heat gain.  We drag out kerosene heaters, stoke flames in the fireplaces we usually ignore, break out sterno stoves long packed away, put on mittens to grill food on the back deck, pack a few perishables in a cooler  - if we are lucky enough or clever enough to have any of those things.

We go to bed early, get  under the down comforters, get up early to drive off to a warm diner for hot food, head to the fire house for water to flush with, to the store for something to drink. We drive to get warm, to charge the phones - if we can find a gas station that has power.

This storm brought so much quiet on Saturday night. It was beautiful and tranquil - it unnerved our cat no end. She seemed to be listening for familiar sounds that had vanished. By Sunday afternoon though, the roar of a neighbors generator could be heard and the traffic noises began to creep back into our hearing. The sun crept back also and most of the snow has entered the watershed already.  We can see the lawn but not by the back porch light. We have been without power since Saturday afternoon.   It's Thursday afternoon and utility bashing has become all the rage.

First our mayor, who in my opinion has been in office too long, has made no less than five robo calls each of which imparted some useful information, but each of which whined about CL&P, a handy scapgoat in the face of next weeks election.  In a gas station yesterday - I heard more complaining about CL&P - why did they have to import crews from Georgia, grumble grumble, why don't they just hire more people right here. Now think about this for a minute: if they hired enough regular employees to cover special emergencies when 800.000 people have no power for two weeks -  what might the daily charge for electricity rise to?

Let's face it folks - the utilities WANT TO SELL US POWER. They want to hook us up as fast as they are able.

Then in the grocery store a woman who had moved here from New York City, said she thought there was something wrong with Connecticut. There, finally I had to agree - but what is wrong with Connecticut electrically speaking is also what is so right with it - all our lovely trees and our crazy tree hugging loving populace, many of whom moved here from New York because of the state's lovely trees..  This early snow clung to leaves everywhere, dragging down any tree with a weakness, and some that looked hearty as ever before the storm.  Many here even sue towns and utilities over tree cutting . Too many of us say no way, not our tree.....

The moral is, trim up in the summer or shut up when the lights go out. I love the trees too. Nobody wants a bare blacktop world. But a little electric is nice too.