It’s been a long time since I’ve gone even a few hours without power. When my household awoke on a Thursday morning after the remnants of a tropical storm had passed through our area, we were among many who had lost power, so we sat tight. If nothing else, we thought, it would be a great experience for our kids to get a glimpse at how things were before electricity.
As it turned out, we wouldn’t get power for another 30 hours. North Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, our power company, was great about answering phone calls and updating us, but it was still an experience I hope to wait to repeat. Here’s my stream-of-consciousness account of a little more than a day without power. I’m sure some of you can relate.
6:45 a.m.: Wake up to hear little people stirring and blearily verify husband is watching them.
6:50 a.m.: Struggle out of bed and stumble to bathroom. Realize we now have limited flushes and I just used one. Use residual water in pipes to wash face/ brush teeth before dragging downstairs.
6:55 a.m.: Arrive in kitchen to enthusiastic little people (school cancelled). Realize lack of power = lack of coffee. Use time before husband leaves for work and can watch kids to head to gas station for coffee for us both. Mercifully, gas station has power (and thereby coffee).
9 a.m.: Head outside with little people in tow to feed horses. Discover with dismay they have less than half a stock tank of water. Make mental note to never, ever again not fill tank to brim if there’s a storm warning. Decide to watch water level and pray for power restoration.
9 a.m. to noon: Do inside chores using daylight to see — not much different than typical day without school.
Noon to 1:30 p.m.: Kids’ quiet time. Realize laptop has only 30% charge and decide to conserve for online learning for daughter. Phone podcast listening session and epic laundry folding setup ensue. Learn Matthew McConaughey had unconventional childhood.
1:30 p.m.: Realize phone, which must be available as hotspot for digital learning because we now have no wireless, is close to dying. Remember farm truck can charge phone without being cranked. Boom.
2 p.m.: Decide time has come to embark on digital learning adventure. Jump through rings of fire involving Google Classroom, Clever.com passwords. Email daughter’s first grade teacher twice for assistance and get prompt, helpful responses.
2:15 p.m.: Finally log in. As energy flags, gaze longingly at empty coffee pot.
4 p.m.: Wrap up online learning involuntarily as laptop dies.
4:15 p.m.: Pass kids off to husband and head down to check horses’ water situation. A few inches remain in trough, but horses appear well-hydrated. Nevertheless, plan for a night without power and bail water by hand from auxiliary trough outside pasture into main tank. Think to self “surely, we’ll have power by morning.” Live to regret that confidence.
4:30-6:30 p.m.: Finish up barn chores, feed horses, school a lesson horse who needs tuneup before weekend.
6:30 p.m.: Head to house to discover husband has set up intricate headlamp and flashlight system that will allow us to navigate since power is not forthcoming. Also find that mother-in-law has picked tonight to bring chicken and dumplings for dinner. Attack said dish gratefully and with gusto.
7 -8:30 p.m.: Few minutes relaxing in kitchen becomes hour and a half as adults are too exhausted from living without power to enforce bedtime. Kids are completely fine with this setup and expand a sticker art project from provided paper to parents’ upper extremities. Parents calmly accept this fate having used up all energy wondering when power will come back on.
8:30 p.m.: Tuck resistant children in. (“But whyyyyy would we have to go to bed now??”) Snuff out candles and flashlights and fall into comas.
6:45 a.m.: Repeat of yesterday, with a few exceptions as follows. Realize in waking haze there is no more residual water in pipes. Realize there are no more flushes. Drat. This is real now.
6:50 a.m.: Struggle downstairs and provide makeshift breakfast for kids — buttered bread and seltzer water — very Dickensian and appropriate for a power outage.
6:55 a.m.: Realize all food in both indoor refrigerators and outdoor freezer must go. Experience epic disappointment.
7:30 a.m.: Feed horses, little people in tow, and check water. Level is way down again. Panic. Grab full emergency jugs from house and dump enough water into stock tank to last a few hours. Pray for power to be on soon. Contemplate how to haul water for horses in a Camry since little people will be involved and to switch car seats into farm truck is more than I can take on mentally right now. Find that these plans involve lots of frustration and internally expressed creative language.
9 a.m.: Head to town to eat at IHOP and surreptitiously charge laptop while doing so. Explain to server that unkempt appearance and plugged in laptop are result of no power. In return, receive look of understanding and invitation to hang out indefinitely.
10:30 a.m.: Decide to leave restaurant and go home to navigate horse water situation. Receive call from NGEMC that power is back on. Thank them. Thank God. Thank anyone within earshot. Arrive home and rush down to pasture, little people in tow, to fill stock tank to brim — a practice never to be neglected again.
Elizabeth Crumbly is a newspaper veteran and freelance writer. She lives in rural Northwest Georgia where she teaches riding lessons, writes and raises her family. You can correspond with her at www.collective-ink.com.