Thursday, January 27, 2011

just what the doctor ordered

So, yesterday, I'm sitting at work and although I'd heard news that a winter storm was a brewin', I was certain we'd be missed again. But then, at some point around 1 PM, a voice comes on over the intercom and announces that our offices will be closing at 3 PM.

Always the cynic when it comes to snow, I was sure this was just part of the big tease.

At 3:00 PM, I escorted out some people who had been visiting me and I walked to my car. I open the door and it starts to sleet. I get in to the car, pull out of the parking lot with a few hundred other people and by the time I actually get on the road and start driving, 30 minutes have passed. As I'm driving, I notice that the sleet has turned to the most gargantuan snow flakes I've ever seen. And that's right about the time traffic came to an almost screeching halt. The accumulation of snow was unreal, it was falling so hard and so fast that within minutes, the ground was coated.


It was so beautiful, so awesome ... so perfectly peaceful and quiet. Despite the hundreds of cars on the road, every time I rolled down my window to clear off my side mirrors, there was absolutely no sound. It was like the snow had blocked out every and all noise.

When I went sideways through an intersection, I opted to use that convenient four-wheel-drive feature on our vehicle, and was able to gain enough traction that I didn't spin out like more than half the cars around me. It took me almost two solid hours to drive eight miles. And while I thought that was bad, my neighbor who works in Washington, D.C., approximately 25 miles away, told me that it took him nine hours to get home, yesterday.


Once I arrived home, the excitement in our house was electrifying. Not only were the kids jumping up and down and shouting, "YAY!" I was jumping up and down and shouting "YAY!" Although we had blizzard conditions, with snow coming down sideways, all six of us got quickly suited up in our snow attire and spent the next two hours outside.


The only reason we came back in to the house is because limbs, which were heavily weighted down with snow were falling off the trees. All around us, we could hear "CRRRRR... CRAACK!"


We retreated to the house, and as we were cooking dinner, I could just imagine the power going out. It seems Charlie and I had the same idea, because simultaneously, we looked at each other and said, "We better get our candles and flashlights ready."


The kids were giddy to think of us losing electricity, and were running around the house with flashlights while Charlie gathered some wood and started a fire. The kindling had just barely ignited, when the lights in the house flickered once ... twice ... three times ... and then went out.

When you take a group of people who are easily entertained, have a love for adventure, an equally great love of camping, and have never experienced true misery from an extended loss of electricity, the scene that unfolds is pure jubilation.

We brushed the children's teeth by candlelight. We pulled out our down comforters. We dressed everyone warmly with flannel pajamas and wool socks and we tucked them in to bed. At one point, we heard the children stirring and realized that they were all climbing in to bed, together, so that they could cuddle up and keep each other warm.

Charlie and I popped open a bottle of wine, stoked our fire, and watched a movie on our portable DVD player while the snow continued to fall outside.

It was absolutely, positively perfect.

We went to bed and woke up to a cold house, but we dressed warmly and reignited our fire. At one point, as I was skipping around the house, merrily, I caught sight of Charlie with a panicked look on his face. It seems he was almost completely out of coffee and seeing as we have an electric stove, he had no way to heat up water.


So he ran outside, with a shovel, and spent the next 15 minutes trying to dig out our cars. Realizing that it would take more time than he had before going in to coffee-withdrawal-shock, he decided that he was going to attempt driving the truck OVER the huge snow bank at the end of our driveway.


That's when I stepped in and told him that he was a nut, I was not going to let him break an axle and even if he got out of the driveway, the roads were slick with ice.

He came back in to the house, remembered our boxes of camping gear and then shouted, "We're not pansies! We're Geologists! WE KNOW HOW TO COOK WITH FIRE!"


He filled up our camping coffee pot with water and stuck it smack dab on top of a flaming log. Less than five minutes later, he was sipping his java and feeling like he was invincible.

Since we had no power and were unable to safely get out of our driveway, we had no where to go. So we went sledding. And we made snowmen.


Neighbors dropped by to say hello and ask if we needed anything. We dropped by other neighbor's homes and asked if they needed anything. When our wood supply was beginning to dwindle, I ran outside with an ax and chopped up the big limbs that had fallen off our trees and I felt invincible.


It was such a great feeling to know that even though we are so accustomed to the comforts of electricity ... we can survive WITHOUT it. Our food was moved from the refrigerator to coolers that we had put outside. Children cuddled up next to each other, and napped on the floor in front of the fire.


We had a dinner of hot dogs, roasted on the fire, with S'mores for dessert.


I was preparing to put a pot in the fire to heat up water so I could give everyone a sponge bath. But just then, the power came back on and the music that had been playing last night when the power went out - was blaring once again from the stereo. It felt like we were immediately ejected out of a simple, primitive survival mode time ... and back in to now.

Our surprise reprieve from the "real world" was over.


Since the beginning of the New Year, I've been nonstop busy with work. Every single day, weekends included, I've been putting in time to get projects started - or finished - or kept on track. This storm was so magnificent for me. It not only blanketed our entire world in beautiful white ... it made all of us stop and do absolutely nothing except frolic in nature and think about the best way to keep each other warm. In my book, there is no day more perfect than that.


Hopefully, we'll have another big snowstorm and the power will go out again.


Because we're stocked up on Jiffy Pop and totally ready.


  1. So happy you got your wish :)

  2. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this post! As the "victim" of many, many snow and ice storms, I have to say that I (usually) adore them. It is so cozy and fun to be snuggled in your home, with no electricity, reading by candle light. I love the snow and how the world becomes clean, bright, and glittery. And the muffled silence. Delightful.

    Now, four years ago when I had no power for 9 days, I was calling the electric company crying, begging, pleading...but I still like them! ;)

  3. I've been thinking about you all.. so glad you reveled in the snow! Glad you got home safely, too. I admire your sense of adventure and resourcefulness! hugs

  4. Sounds as if you folks had a fun time while the lights were out. Kind of like when life hands you lemons you make lemonade!

  5. Oh my goodness... you brought back such wonderful memories that I have of being in the same situation when I was a little one! Now I live in Florida and I can only relive it through awesome stories like yours :O) Thanks for the awesome blog today!

  6. Loved this post. It really was a beautiful snowfall.

    And that picture of Henry, sitting at the edge of the water?

    That right there is why you moved to Virginia. Staggering beauty.

  7. So, me being a southern girl, I have to ask. How much snow did you get? I had to ask. We live in TN and my daughter has missed seven days of school this year due to snow.

  8. Ummmm, we tried doing Jiffy Pop over a campfire and it was horrid. What little did pop scorched and burned horribly. Granted that was 20 years ago, but I remember it vividly. So you may want to test it before you plan on it with only a fire.

    We have an old-fashioned wire mesh basket w/sliding lid that is fabulous on fires. Hope you can find one!

  9. This was my favorite post yet. Well done Jen!

  10. Thanks for the trip into your adventure. Sounds so sweet and fun. New experiences mingled with old routines and rituals made for a great time. One surely not to be forgotten. I hope your winter Rocks with Joy, Jubilation and Exuberance.

  11. I remember once when I was babysitting, the parents came home to a totally dark house, finding all of us sleeping in front of the fire. The kids had been bored so we had pretended that there was a blackout and that we were snowed in, to make it a bit more realistic we had switched off the fuse that covered the hallway, bedrooms and living room and made supper over the open fire in the living room. The kids, tho they are no longer children, still talk about that first simulated blackout. We probably repeated it 10 times or so, but the first time was really something special. Just a suggestion, you don't need a real blackout to cook on the living room fire place :)

  12. WOW---I was hoping that you would get the snow that was forcast for Washington and you have made the best of it. Great Pictures!
    Thanks for sharing but I would still rather build a sand castle.
    Are you going to re-consider the Gas Log?

  13. I dunno.... I kinda like my 76 degree winter here in SoCal.... with no fear of losing power so I can watch American Idol... LOL

  14. Sounds like an amazing time was had by all. Chicago had just a bit of snow yesterday, nothing compared to the east!

  15. Glad you got your snowstorm....and some quality time with your family. I heard that storm was a doozy.

  16. When I was a kid we used to love power outages. Good thing since we lived in the woods and lost power quite often. Glad you got some family downtime!

  17. Just saw a picture of a sign on the weather channel that stated "Whoever is praying for snow, please stop". First person that came to my mind was you!!!!

    I was getting ready to send the picture via e-mail and didn't want to oust you on a public domain with our Bostonian relatives for "wishing" (praying) for snow. I feared that a "some of our cuzzins" may start hailing snowballs in your direction.

    I'm glad you got your wish. However, now that you went public and admitted it to the blogging community.... hmm. Well, I guess your on your own ~ kiddo. Good luck!!!!

    Make sure you duck. ;-) AND If it's any consolation ~ I love ya. Love, Marg.

    (psst. Very cute post)