Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thoughts from the Stone Age

I spent a decade one week in the Stone Age.  For those of you not aware of the conniptions in Connecticut, the area in which I live was walloped by one of those once-in-a-century storms that came barreling up the East Coast with such unexpected intensity it propelled us right back into the Stone Age. 

Without a generator, without power, my husband and I and our puppies were completely without running water, flushing toilets, light, heat, cable, internet or telephone.  Even our cell-phone service was spotty, due to damaged towers.  We had candles, wood, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and candles.  And water, lots of unpotable water, because of the 18 inches of snow on the ground and in the trees and on the wires. 

It was like being on a camping trip with everyone, observed a neighbor.  Traffic lights didn't function, gas pumps didn't work....it was astonishing to me at the rate at which civilization deteriorated.  One day pinnacle, next day dust. 

I'm not one for camping.  My idea of roughing it is Howard Johnson's.  I'm not a fussy girlie-girl like the lady in Barnes and Noble who fretted she couldn't get a hair dresser appointment, but I like to be comfortable and I am not into expending any more energy than absolutely necessary to accomplish anything. 

We talked to a lot of people who seemed to believe that what we experienced was just a harbinger of something that's coming that from their expressions leads me to believe they think it will be worse.  These were the folks who shrugged and shook their heads and said things like, "I don't know, but....well, I just don't know, but this feels to me like just the start." 

Which got me to thinking.  What do we know?  One thing I was surprised to learn is that apparently we can be polite on the road if we have to be .... I didn't hear about any deaths due to driving accidents, which given how agressive some drivers can be, myself included, I found astonishing.  So if we can scale back our emotions when we have to even in a situation like driving, where our responses can be almost habitual, it struck me as undeniable evidence for at least some optimism should the lights ever fail to come back on. 

In the midst of all the doom and gloomsayers, who seem to be sure that the glow of the human heart is measured in the same kilowatts that flow through the power lines, I think there is great reason to hope.  So what if it all comes crashing down?  That means we have a chance to build it better. 

What would you do, asked one grizzled gentleman of me one afternoon, as we were huddled around a bar, in the late afternoon gloom, gathered in the company of grim survivalists. 

I know my answer wasn't what he was expecting.  "I'd march myself over to Town Hall," I said, "And find the plans for that hydroelectric dam.  And then I'd go door to door if I had to until I could find all the people I needed to get it working again, and I'd make them keep at until we had our own kind of power." 

Wow, he said.  And he bought me a drink.

So for all you survivalists out there, the ones who are sure the end of it all is coming soon, stop panicking. The light that illuminates the human spirit isn't dependent on any power company.


Walk in the Woods said...


(what else can I possibly say?)

Anonymous said...

Here Ye Here Ye! I'm right with you on that one. Society has had to rebuild itself many a time before and if needed it would again.

Living in the part of NJ I am in all we got was a dusting. My family up in NW Jersey got over a foot and no utilities for a week. I've heard you guys got it even worse.

I'm glad to hear you came out of it unscathed and wiser for it.

Bonnie said...

I was very surprised by that storm which, of course, didn't even touch Florida. And I was truly surprised by how harsh it really was. I have family in Mass. that was affected but evidently not as badly as you. But you have the right attitude to deal with that sort of situation and like Walk in the Woods, I say BRAVO!