Two decades ago, before we realized the Earth was slowly being eaten up by global warming, we had an ice storm that broke off power poles, trees, and knocked out electricity to most of the east coast of our province. Thousands of people were in the cold and dark for many days. Except us.
For some reason, our side of the street maintained power the entire time. Just our side, mind you — the houses across the street were in the dark. We had lots of visitors and the kettle didn’t had an opportunity to cool down. We were told it was because we were on the same power line as the Grace Hospital. Not sure if that was indeed the case and at the time, I didn’t really care.
Well, the Grace has been torn down now for years, and in those years, global warming has become a household term. Know what other words are spoken in our household far too much? “Where are the matches?”
Hurricane Igor was the start. I am from Random Island; my parents still live there. As you may well remember, Random Island was devastated during that storm. Power gone for nearly a week.
Well, in our neck of the woods in Mount Pearl, we were in the dark even longer than my folks. The homes across the street all had power within a day or so. Ours was gone nearly a week.
Exactly one year ago, we awoke to find the neighbour’s tree on our cars. Hurricane Sandy was flexing her muscles, and we highly suspect she was on steroids. Once again, we were on the hunt for as many candles as we could find and equally as many propane canisters. It would be five days before we could turn on a lamp or plug in the kettle.
And power outages are funny. At first it’s lovely the family all gathers in one room under candlelight and, let’s face it, we all look better by candlelight. We lament about what board games it would be good to have, say random things like, “If you ever have a leach stuck to you, you’re not supposed to burn it off,” and always marvel that the neighbours across the street are watching high definition digital cable with what seems like every possible light on in the house.
So, on Sunday evening past, I had just taken supper out of the oven, decided a cup of tea would be perfect, and was howling to the troops to come eat, when there was a little click, and instantly we were in a very familiar state; the dark.
A quick scan of our neighbours let us know that we were joined by at least seven other homes, all on our side of the street … of course. There were three things to be thankful for: supper was cooked and hot, it was warm in the house, and best of all, the kettle was boiled.
We ate by candlelight, and like generations before us when plunged into total darkness, used our 4G networks to contact Newfoundland Power, played games on our tablets, and I remembered that my new laptop, unlike my old one, had a great battery, so it was possible to write my column without the aid of electricity. How we survive this I will never know.
All the while, the welcomed flashing yellow lights from the Newfoundland Power truck kept illuminating our living room while we waited in anticipation of being able to watch Sunday football and charge our cellphones.
Unlike power outages past, this one was short, very short. In fact, the kettle was still hot when the lights came back on. Dare I say it was almost too soon, because the second there was power, the family dispersed.
However, we know it won’t always be this way. There will be darkness in our future, and many tins of beans for supper. Our short power outage served as a reminder to buy more matches, small propane cylinders, and Scrabble.
Email Paula Tessier at firstname.lastname@example.org.