Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

Unless you live under a rock, you know that the Midwest was hit by tornadic winds Friday night (sans the tornado) which, predictably, knocked out power for hundreds of thousands in Ohio alone. When you lose power for days at a time, in the middle of a heat wave, you have to rethink how you do everything; you have to slow down. First, you look at the list of things you'd hoped to achieve over the weekend and mentally cross things off. Making pesto with a mortar and pestle seems a bit laborious these days. You gather your flashlights and candles together, you get ice and empty your refrigerator into a cooler. You make grilled cheese sandwiches on the stove, which you really shouldn't wait until there's a power outage to do. Eventually, you throw out a lot of the food you can't eat quickly enough. You take pictures of the neighbors' handsome boy eating peaches. You fire up the grill, invite a few friends over. You exchange bags of ice, cups of coffee, and the latest news on which neighborhoods have had power restored.

It's interesting to see how people deal differently with the inconvenience. With tree limbs, or entire trees, fallen everywhere, the world smells like cut trees. Some neighbors are quick to offer help. Another neighbor driving by, amidst the noise of a chainsaw, lowered his window and yelled that he would be grilling and serving beer all day, so c'mon over. I love this neighborhood. Rumor has it that there was a line of ninety waiting for coffee at our local Speedway. Let me repeat that. A line of ninety for Speedway coffee. I count myself lucky that I have a gas stove and a French press, so I never reached that panic state.

We had several traffic lights that were out. People tend to be patient enough to wait their turns early in the morning, but as the day grows hotter patience wears thin, as do manners.

You learn quickly which stores and restaurants have power. If you don't hear it from a neighbor, all you need do is drive by. Either there are no cars, or the parking lot is packed and a line is trailing out the door.

It takes a few days to get into the new pace, which I only managed on the same night that power was restored. I was enjoying my latest issue of Kinfolk on the porch with a glass of wine when the electrical world suddenly came back to life. What do you do next? Put the flashlights and candles back in their cool, dark drawers, put what remaining food you have back in the refrigerator. And make ice cubes.

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