Saturday, November 5, 2011

146 Hours of Education and the Story of a Tree

I had 146 hours of education over the last couple of days.  It was education without power.  It was scary.  It was interesting.  It was trying.  It was stressful.  It was also calm.

Winter Storm Alfred dumped some heavy wet snow here in New England.  It began last Saturday, October 29th, and while the weather forecasters were predicting power outages, I don't think we really thought it would be this bad.


We were not finished with Fall here in New England.  And it was not a light fluffy snow.  It was big flakes of wet snow.  The kind that look absolutely magical from your window . . . like Christmas.  The kind that usually last for a few minutes before turning to the little teenie flakes that look so pretty when they land on your mitten and you examine their shape.  No, these were the ones that land on you and stick so that you are completely soaked when you get inside.

So the leaves were covered with this heavy stuff, and the branches were weighed down.  By the time I arrived home from work on Saturday, we had no power.  As I exited my car, I could just hear cracking noises in the wooded areas.  It was eerie.  Cracking, and then snow falling from limbs.  Cracking, and then limbs falling.  Limbs taking out other limbs.

I got into the house while still light . . . no power . . . and as daylight turned to darkness it became an entire night of listening to noises outside.  As we tried to sleep in the night and would hear loud noises.  We would go to the windows and look with our flashlights.  One such flashlight adventure at around 4:00 a.m. showed a really sad sight.  One of our back yard trees, which surprisingly had no leaves left on it, had completely split about 10 feet up from the ground.  Half had fallen in one direction, skimming the side of the house and just missing our fence.  The other half fell in the other direction.

Flashback to about 1994 when our kids, who were early elementary school (perhaps around 1st and 3rd grade) found what they thought was a weed growing in the middle of the front yard.  Mama tree is our very favorite tree out front, and she had sprouted a baby tree.  We told them it was a baby tree, and that we would have to pull it out because it was not growing in a good place and would likely die. So my girls dug up that little one-foot baby tree and moved it to the back yard.  They put it in our fenced in half of the yard.  They thought our dogs Angel and Ashley would enjoy sitting under the tree in the summer. 

We kind of laughed.  We never thought that little thing would survive, and my husband said he would wait a few weeks and remove it.  But we mowed the grass around it for years.  We dealt with how stupid it looked in the middle of the fenced in yard until it became a real tree.  Flash forward to the summer of 2011 and it is the tall tree in the backyard that our dogs Lola and Charlie enjoy sitting under in the summer.  (Lola and Charlie are the two "paws" that have not yet been introduced on my blog).

Our tree will be gone later today or tomorrow.  Our newly purchased chain saw will be taking her down completely.  So sad!

So . . . what have I learned in 146 hours:

1) Trees break!  It's a sad, scary noise that they make.  It is a little heartbreaking too . . . even for the ones that don't have sentimental value.

2) If you have to drive 70 miles to fill your tank with gas, you will be down about a quarter tank when you get back home.  

3) Friends and neighbors help each other in situations like these.  People's true colors really come through loud and clear in these situations.   

4) You can make things on a grill that look horrible, but taste pretty good in dim light.  And you can eat really burned stuff without getting sick, even if the aftertaste doesn't go away for a few hours.  

5) Your situation may be bad, but it could always be worse.  A friend of mine had power come back on in her home, and a fire started, gutting their in-law apartment and causing damage to the main house.  It sent her husband to the hospital and scattered her pets so they were hard to find.  They are in a hotel and will eventually have a happy ending.  It will just take longer. 

6) Dogs and cats are nice to have around when you don't have power.  They are also warm.

7) My husband was a great guy on Days 1 through 3 when he was not working due to the power outage at work, but once he went back to work, we discovered that we are on opposite ends of the communication spectrum.  Emotions were a little high these last few days.  I will now blame work for all of our communication problems.  However . . . HOWEVER . . . the chainsaw that I immediately purchased via my work computer on Monday morning (because I figured by the time we found an open store with power, every chain saw would be gone) which he thought was a bad idea . . . admittedly became a good one by Friday when he went to buy supplies to get it running.  Five points for me in the Game of Matrimony! 

8)   Hand puppet shapes on the wall can be fun.  However, they don't hold my attention and the flashlight kind of scares my dog, Samantha.

9) You can, indeed, wear certain articles of clothing for multiple days . . . the ones that people don't notice. 

10) AM talk radio isn't too bad when it is the only show in town and it is your lifeline to what's going on! 

I could go on and on for hours.  Going to bed early and getting up early isn't so bad.  I can miss my television shows and not die.  Feet do eventually warm up with the right amount of blankets and dogs strategically placed on the bed.  Blah, blah, blah!

Creatively . . . I was useless.  There was not one iota of creativity in me.  My energy went to working 11-12 hour days and surviving the elements at home. 

It was 146 hours of education.  It was 146 hours of reality check.  And as I type this, I notice that my house has a certain hum to it when there is power.  It is a hum that kinds of says "Home!"

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