We lost power as I was writing that last post, and, three days later, I am just now able to use the computer. Praise God for autosave! And, THANK YOU LORD for the incredible line crews working for Gibson Electric Cooperative! So, what has life been like these past three days, living in the Ice Age?
First, life in the Ice Age was COLD. We were grateful for the wood-burning fireplace, and kept it well-stoked and burning hot around the clock. Still, this cold-blooded lizard only really felt warm if I was standing or sitting within 10 feet of the hearth. And I even wore multiple, multiple layers - you know, the well-padded polar bear look. Bedtime attire? Thermal underwear, thick fuzzy sweat pants, socks, and an extra blanket. Forget your romantic notions about how wonderful life on the prairie must've been for Laura Ingalls and her family. The ugly truth is, those folks froze their tookus-s off all winter. And they were tired all the time, too. Steve took "first shift" on manning the fire, staying up until the wee hours of the morning. Then, about 5:00, it was my turn to creep out from under the covers and stir up the fire. Lots of clothing, staggered bedtimes....how did our pre-electric ancestors ever manage to procreate?
Second, life in the Ice Age was, shall we say, less than clean. We get our water from a pump, which runs on electricity. No power, no water. Fortunately, when the freezing rain started on Tuesday, Steve instructed me to fill the bathtub with water, "just in case." I also filled every available pitcher and jug with water. So, we had water for drinking, and water for flushing the toilet, and water for watering the dogs and the chickens....but no water for washing. We had lots of mushy slush coming into the house, from all our trips out to the woodpile. We had the fire burning around the clock - which means we also had the sooty dust that goes with it. Trips outside to do chores always produced wet clothing, which had to be replaced with dry clothing if one wanted to stay warm - so we had LOTS of laundry piling up in the utility room, not to mention the assorted caps, gloves, and bib-coveralls draped around the living room to dry out in the limited heat from the fireplace. We had two large dogs camping out inside with us - which means dog hair and dog breath added to the general state of household corruption. Blech. Needless to say, that first hot shower after our Ice Age adventure felt FABULOUS.
Third, life in the Ice Age was dark. Even with candles, a kerosene lamp, and a battery-powered lantern, the house grew d-a-r-k when the sun went down. But the darkness wasn't all a bad thing. For one thing, our nasty living conditions were less apparent after sundown. I commented to Steve that I thought the pioneers probably never had clean houses (see previous paragraph), but it didn't bother them too much because there was no way they could SEE just how filthy everything was. So here's a tip for the modern housewife - if you don't have time to clean, just turn off the lights! Another "benefit" of the limited lighting was that everyone had to gather in a fairly small circle if they wanted to enjoy any illumination. The first evening without power, the kids passed a couple of hours playing card games at one end of the kitchen table. The second night, they piled around the living room under blankets and told chain stories. Seeing my kids all close and enjoying one another was definitely a blessing to this mother's heart. Also, by 8:00, everyone was ready to head to bed.
Fourth, life in the Ice Age was, in spite of some difficulties, an adventure. A blazing fire, a big bowl of steaming venison stew, the dim flicker of candlelight - okay, that's just totally cool. And I have to admit that I felt some degree of satisfaction in rising early to restoke the fire, then scraping up a pile of hot coals so that I could fry sausage and eggs in a castiron skillet in the fireplace. (Thank you so much, Konos ladies, for teaching me useful skills!) And for the kids - no baths for three days! How awesome is that?! No boobing out in front of the PlayStation, no requests to play games on the computer.... going power-less definitely has its upside.
But, all that said, I am so glad that our power has been restored. It is good to be living in modern times - heat pumps, running water, automatic washing machines, overhead lighting, internet access, hot showers, coffee that doesn't have a thick layer of sludge at the bottom of the pot...it is wonderful to be back in 2009! I'd like to end by asking that you offer up a prayer for those who are still living in the Ice Age. Neighbors two hills over have been told it may be two weeks before they have electricity. Further north, just over the state line in Kentucky, the destruction is horrendous and there's no telling how long repairs and clean-up will take. Thankfully, temperatures are milder today, and the sun is bright - work crews are putting in long, hard hours and folks are beginning to emerge from the rubble and tackle the task of removing mountains of debris. It's a blessing to be leaving the Ice Age behind.
4 days ago