By Kathryn Stocks
This month marks five years since the massive ice storm that hit on Dec. 21/22, 2013, and the subsequent loss of power. The length of the power outage varied across the city, but in our house it first went out for an hour on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 21, came back on and then went out at 5 a.m. on Dec. 22 and didn’t return again until Christmas.
The extended outage was a time of discovery for me. When it first went out I discovered we had four dead flashlights and the only one that still worked was a pocket-size one. Not a lot of light but it sure was handy.
I discovered the value of good- quality candles. They were usually more expensive but not always. Cheap tea lights drown themselves and give off little light. Good ones give off more light but only burn for a few hours. The red tapers I’d bought at IKEA were fabulous. They burned brightly without dripping for about four hours. The expensive snowball candle I’d bought at a candle party years ago shone beautifully for hours and gave off a lovely bright light. The cheap floating candles were totally useless while the more expensive ones lit up our table for Christmas. We used almost every candle we owned at that dinner!
I discovered the value of decent matches, which we didn’t have. On the second day my husband went out and bought a butane lighter that was great for lighting candles and the fire.
I discovered how incredibly beautiful the world looks when all the trees are thickly coated in ice. I also saw how much damage Mother Nature can do to our trees as we walked around the block and surveyed the destruction.
I discovered the value of gas appliances. The gas fireplace in our kitchen warmed up the room when we closed the doors to the hall and the dining room, and the gas fireplace in our bedroom warmed up the upstairs. Our gas stove allowed us to cook our meals on the burners although we couldn’t use the oven. We cooked our Christmas turkey on the gas barbecue for more than three hours and it was delicious. Without our gas appliances we couldn’t have stayed in the house.
I discovered how terribly dark and cold it gets by 4:30 p.m. at this time of year. How did the pioneers cope?
I discovered that having no power was exciting for the first little while as we played cards with two of our children and talked longer than we normally would. After the first 24 hours, though, everyone missed their electronic devices.
I discovered that it was fun to have friends over for Christmas dinner, even though we had to prepare everything by candlelight. The trickiest part was stirring the gravy while holding a candle high enough to see in the roasting pan but not drip wax in it.
And I discovered that it was a hallelujah moment when the power came back on again at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 25, just in time to use the dishwasher for all those dirty dishes!