Monday, August 10, 2020, while doing the “work from home” thing in our home office, I was about to have lunch and the power went out. This is not an unusual occurrence. From time to time we may get a hit that takes power out for 5-10 minutes. I roll with it. Laptop still has battery power… Router is down but I pull out my always charged jetpack and I’m back online in a couple of minutes. I adapt.
This one was a little bit different. Being engrossed in my work as I am at times, I hadn’t paid attention to any news reports. I didn’t have to drive anywhere or be outside, so I didn’t pay attention to the weather reports. At least not until…
…one of my coworkers mentioned the “bad storm coming in from Iowa”. After my “What storm?” question and a quick consult with The Great Google I learned that Iowa got hit pretty bad. The storm would later be dubbed as a “Land Hurricane”. I have a friend that lives in the Quad Cities. I texted to check on her. She responded after about 20 minutes saying that her power had just gone out and “…this wind ain’t no joke!”
After about an hour or so, the weather here, was starting to turn as well. Nothing too major… the wind was starting to pick up a bit and it got dark. The sun and the clouds were engaged in a battle for dominance. I noticed that the sun was currently losing the battle.
No big deal… We live in the Midwest. When the tornado sirens go off, we usually head out front with half of our neighbors to look for funnel clouds. The other half, they are keeping watch in the back. It is about 25 feet from my front porch to the basement door. Our phones are usually in our pockets… The candles, lighters/matches and flashlights are usually on the floor by the open basement door. Additional supplies are usually in the basement.
This seemed like a good time to stop for lunch! I went downstairs to fix lunch and I decided that I would put our supplies by the basement door after I finished eating (just in case). While fixing our lunch I noticed that the top of 25+ foot pine tree outside our home was aggressively swaying in the wind. This produced a slight pause in my usual thought pattern.
(Slight pause - mental note…Score Keeping)
Storm making its way here even after ravaging Iowa – Point awarded to Mother Nature
Clouds winning an ongoing battle with the Sun - Point awarded to Mother Nature
25-foot Pine tree swaying aggressively – Point awarded to Mother Nature
We opened the front door to allow us a better view, and so we could smell the rain that we knew was coming. Storms elicit a dark and powerful beauty of their very own. We watched the raging battle continue…. Trees whipping in the wind, the sun struggling to peek through for a few seconds only to be completely covered by rapidly moving dark clouds… wind howling, and the process randomly repeating. I finished making our lunch while listening to the rhythm of this mild chaos. I walked to my chair, sat down, turned the TV on and lifted my fork and then it happened.
The trees stopped. They didn’t just slowly wind down; they didn’t come to an abrupt halt. No, the trees just stopped as if the air had been sucked out and there was simply no wind to move them. The clouds did not move. The sky wasn’t exactly sunny or cloudy… it was somewhere in between. It was quiet outside. Its creepy when you “hear” quiet over the sound of your TV. Quiet; not like stop talking quiet or turn the music down quiet. Quiet like no birds or people making noise… Quiet like - disaster movie, is this the eye of the storm, next level shit- quiet! (score 2 points for Mother Nature!)
I looked at my wife and said “Honey… I think maybe we oughta go to the basement”. After a split-second confirmation nod, we picked up our plates and headed downstairs grabbing flashlights & candles along the way. A second or two after we got settled, the sky opened, and it RAINED. No longer quiet outside, we remarked how loud the rain was… I turned on the TV started Netflix and then the power went out.
She lit the candles while I finished my lunch and we sat together in the dark and listened to the wind rage and rain pummel everything it touched. The storm was so loud I half expected to see the Ark go by when I finally looked outside. We went upstairs after it died down a bit. I went back to work. The laptop still had battery power. I pulled out my always charged jetpack and I was back online in a couple of minutes. The laptop battery had almost 2.5 hours left. This was just enough juice for me to finish my workday. It died as I tried to click the “clock out” button.
The rain finally stopped, the sun came out and it got warmer. The power was still out so we had the door opened to allow the gentle breeze and fresh rain smell in. With no power people get bored. Soon our neighbors started to congregate out front. People talking, kids playing… pleasant sounds. We sat inside taking it all in. A trio of neighbors came by to try and get us to come out. Being pretty content to enjoy the mostly quiet evening, we declined the invitation. Leaving the trio to their adventure I noticed each of them carried a drink, wine, I think. (This could be trouble!)
Instead, we decided to play Scrabble. It is one of our enjoyable pastimes. Brenda usually wins the best of three. I play anyway, I have gotten better. Occasionally I even beat her! When I do win Best of 3, I refuse to play for the next few times she asks. (How else can I retain the “Best of 3” title and bragging rights!?) We played through snacks and dinner. We played until evening became night… then we continued to play by candlelight. At some point during our play the trio returned. I was right… trouble…let’s just say they will forever be known as W3 (Women, Wine & Wood) but that’s a story for a different day. The night ended with Brenda’s “Best of 3” title still being firmly in place. The power was still out.
It turned out to be the longest stretch without power that I have personally experienced. I think it was close to 36 hours. There was an eerie feel to it, knowing “it will come back on soon, but what if…?” For us it was short outage. I had many thoughts and questions. What would we do if we were out of power for multiple days? During our 36-hour outage we spent time brainstorming how to save the food in the freezer we had just filled up. We discussed and arranged for me to work at a friend’s house, so I still work in a safe from Covid-19 environment and not have to go into the office during the pandemic. The whole situation was an inconvenience, but by no means devastating.
For those that went without power for upwards of 5 days, my belief is, that to them the situation was a bit more than problematic to their daily routines, finances, food supplies and potentially to their health. Frustrated and concerned as I am sure they were, they were still better off than others. For some, the storm brought more than darkness. It came with devastation and destruction of homes and business and possibly loss of life. For all affected by this and other storms I send healing energy and pray you find your way back to what ever you consider normal and right in your world.
This experience of power outages and rainstorms has been sufficiently interesting as to occupy my mind enough for me to put the proverbial pen to paper. We have so much, and we take so much for granted. Our belief is that the power will come back on…. but… what if it doesn’t? Eventually all the gadgets that we have come to depend upon will be useless. There would be no tv or radio to fall asleep to and you wouldn’t be able to wake up to your favorite sound bite or ringtone. In the end, Mother Nature will be the victor. For now, we pick our battles, acknowledge our wins and celebrate our recoveries.
Today we have a far better chance of recovery than we did before we discovered and harnessed electricity for our purposes. Imagine what it was like not reading after dark except by candlelight and needing to conserve your candles! Without power, your food had a truly short shelf life. Safe travel was usually limited to the daytime hours. If necessary, torches lit the way, without them you only had the moon & stars to guide you. Assuming that is… no dark clouds were blocking the light, threatening a downpour!
When the clouds bring the rain and storms and I am wowed at the of range possible outcomes. I am amazed by the chaos of a raging storm destroying anything with the unmitigated gall to be in its path. I marvel at the endurance of rainwater to wear away mountains over decades. The force to destroy riverbanks and create mudslides in a matter of minutes never ceases to shock me. Then there is the soil and all it contains, nourished by life giving rain. Walking in the rain on a warm summer day with a loved one is the epitome of serenity. I revel in the refreshing quality of that “good sleep” you get from a nap on a rainy afternoon.
In case you were unclear, I love storms. The power they wield takes my breath away. Stop and take it all in the next time the skies open up. At that moment when the trees stop… be sure to listen to the sounds of silence. Use the calm before the storm to ponder the outcome, contemplate the possibilities. Speak peace, love, safety and protection into the universe. If it looks like its gonna be a doozy… make sure you grab your candles and flashlights on the way down to the basement!
Kim C Wells
Expressing myself through written word. Hoping to evoke emotions, invoke thoughts and actions.
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