Last Sunday at 3:29 pm a violent storm passed through the DC area knocking over trees and bringing down branches. It also resulted in no power to around 300,000 homes and businesses in the DC Metro area. We were among that number.
The actual storm was kind of fun. It didn’t last long, but was very strong. We saw huge branches fall from our Tulip poplar, and the torrential rain flew sideways for a while, drenching everything in our screened in porch. Stupidly we all stood at the front (cracked) picture window in the dining room while the storm raged. Had I been carrying my mobile phone with me I would have gotten the tornado “SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM!” warning text. But it was charging in my office.
Sometime before the end of the storm we heard the muffled pop of a transformer, and the lights went out. We suspected we were in for at least a day without power. During the blizzard last winter people were without power for several days (we were lucky and didn’t lose power — or at least not for long if we did). A number of years ago a hurricane took out our power for a week. That was not very much fun.
Anyway — Dean took Clare and Brandon (my nephew who was visiting from Illinois) to DC to a museum and Georgetown while I stayed home and cooked dinner — which was my plan before the storm but was going to be more of a challenge with no power. Luckily we have a gas stove and I could use the burners after lighting them with a match.
That night, after Dean, Clare and Brandon returned we ate dinner and talked about what to do that night. Brandon was the most concerned — he worried about sleeping without air conditioning. Also: no TV or Xbox. Andrew and Clare went out with friends. Dean and Brandon went to bed early but I stayed up and read by candle light.
The next morning Dean, Andrew and Brandon headed to Pennsylvania to camp for the night. Clare and I stayed home. Clare slept until noon, as usual, but I was up early. With not much else to do I tackeled the cupboards and drawers in my kitchen — something I’d been meaning to do for months. I started on one side of the kitchen and ended up at the other side. No longer does one feel like they’re looking at a puzzle in an “Eye Spy” book when trying to find the measuring spoon in one kitchen drawer.
After Clare woke up we celebrated her 19th birthday by going to the mall and buying her a couple of items for her mobile phone. We also bought some more flashlights, since the boys took the good ones camping.
That night we lit several candles while I continued to clean the house. I remarked to Clare that this must be what I would be like had the Internet not been invented. I would clean all day. She thought that sounded sick. After Clare left to hang out with friends, I read for a few hours by candle light, then went to sleep — exhausted after a day of hard work in nearly 90° temperatures.
On Tuesday I found more cleaning to do, and was just about to begin work on the basement when I heard a strange noise. The air conditioner fan! We had electricity again! Goodbye cleaning! Hello Internet…
When I was a kid, and because I was a teacher for many years, all the way up until I was in my early 40’s the word snow day brought warm, fuzzy, happy feelings. It still does, but not as much as it used to — since I work from home for a consulting company anyway.
Surprise snow days were the best — and the rarest. I’d fall asleep thinking I had to get up and go to school the next day but instead I’d wake up to an entire free day. A day that I didn’t expect to have. It was like a gift of 8 hours. I could do whatever I wanted to do. I could go back to bed if I wanted to — but never did because sleep would be a waste of all that free time.
Snow days that were not a surprise were wonderful too because of the anticipation. Would school be called off? Should I do my homework/grading? Of course when school was not canceled it was a real disappointment; but if it was canceled the day belonged to me.
Once my kids were in school I’d vicariously feel their delight when they heard that school was called off. I even sometimes wore my own pajamas inside out and backwards to help with the cancellations. There’s not much more pleasant than bedhead, giggly, happy children with visions of a long lazy day ahead of them, while fat flakes of snow fall from the sky.
It’s snowing today and is supposed to continue snowing through tonight and well into tomorrow afternoon. The National Weather Service is calling for 20 – 28 inches around the DC Metro area. The local citizens are calling this a snowpocalypse on social media sites. Local schools are closed or closing early. The federal government will close 4 hours early. Neighbors tell me that the milk is sold out at the local grocery stores. We’ve got enough food to last the few days it will take to shovel us out. I sincerely hope we don’t lose our power though — we don’t have enough wood to keep us warm.
I’ve not been watching the local news recently — I spent a lot of time preparing for my book group — but I know they’ve probably been talking this snow up. And I bet that if I turned the television on right now I’d see a chilly TV news personality standing on some street corner talking about the snow. In a few hours they will have rulers to measure the snow. As corny and predicable as they are — I find them endearing.
So even though I still have to work and even though my day is not any more free than it would have been had it not been snowing, I’m getting that warm, fuzzy, happy feeling I remember from my younger days.