Friday 30 Sep 2016

Power to Me
Jennifer Flaten

Let there be light. Oh please, please, please let there be light when we get home. That is what I was chanting under my breath Saturday morning.

We were out on an emergency donut run. Yes, there are other kinds of donut runs. This time we’re out because our home was without power and had been since 8 pm the evening before.

Nothing kills your Friday night plans, which involved a tall glass of milk and a peanut square and oodles of television, the kind of television that doesn’t involve singing animated creatures, like the snap and pop of a transformer and not the robot kind of transformer blowing up.

Amid the shrieks of small children suddenly plunged into darkness, I managed to find the one working flashlight. After convincing everyone that a power outage was not the end of the world, I discovered I was not surprised.

The weather service, shockingly right for once, predicted a wet heavy snow for the evening. The kind of snow that clogs your snow blower breaks branches and, yep, knocks out the power.

Of course, thinking the power might go out and actually being prepared when it did are two different things. I managed to find some extra chicken-shaped candles, buried deep in the back of the closet. I desperately wanted more light, but not enough to attempt lighting the ancient oil lamp moldering on the top of the fridge. I figured by the time I scraped off the 4 inches of grime the power would be back on.

The kids thought it was fantastic, until they realized I wasn’t going to let them stay up later just because there was no power. After sending the kids to bed, I alternated staring enviously out the window at the neighbours, across the street, that still had power and pining for my peanut square, which remained trapped in the fridge.

At first, the glow of the candles was romantic. Then it got boring. What exactly do you do in total darkness? Did I mention its bloody cold, so whatever you’re thinking was not an option.

Total darkness is why people invented electricity, well, sort of. That whole Luddite, no technology, thing is fine in theory. In practice, I need the Internet and 500 television channels.

Bored out of my skull I went to bed at 9 pm. I felt 12 years old again. I bundled up for bedtime knowing that if I didn’t I would be a Popsicle in the morning.

My last thought, before I fell asleep, was I hope the power goes back on while I am asleep. That and if I freeze to death I hope the cats don’t eat me. I awoke alive, unfrozen, only slightly gnawed on and sad to find no power.

Helpfully, the power company had called my cell phone at midnight to tell me they might have the power on by 3 am. Now, it was 7 am and things were looking bleak.

The kids demanded breakfast, lack of power or not, hence the donuts run. The shops near our home had power; curse them. We lingered as long as we could in the warmth, before finally returning reluctantly to our igloo.

The cats greeted us with death stars that said, “We know you’ve been somewhere warm without us.”

After clicking the light switches futilely, I gave the power company another call, just in case they forgot about us. Just as I finished my call I heard cheers from the children, the power was back on. The kids did a rousing happy to have heat again dance. I admit I joined in, too; so very happy to have electricity.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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