Wednesday, December 30, 2009


The week from Christmas through New Year’s Day traditionally has been vacation time for my wife Lisa and me.

We truly wanted to get away this year – a quiet few days at a New England bed and breakfast is our cup of holiday brew – but the economy dictated that we stay at home. We did some things around the house, bought ourselves an HD plasma TV and enjoyed each other’s company.
Then came Tuesday, with its high winds and Arctic chill.

We had a horrific incident in the neighborhood when the wind blew down a massive pine tree within sight of our house. The power lines were ripped down. The toaster oven with my leftover pizza slices (boy does Pagliacci’s of Plainville make good ones) suddenly went cold. The power went out.

We were told by the CL&P recording that normalcy would be returned in two hours. That hardly seemed likely and sure enough, it wasn’t. We were in for a long haul for the second time in three years.

The fact that modern conveniences were unavailable was nothing compared to no water and thus no plumbing to accommodate certain functions that human beings can't ignore for very long. After all, nobody has outhouses anymore. Nonetheless, we tried to rough it.

We had plenty of firewood and that’s always fun and romantic to sit in front of a blazing fire on a cold night. I puffed on my pipe and sipped some alcoholic concoctions to while away the hours, keeping in mind what our forefathers did 250 years ago. No SmartPhones back then, Virginia. Folks amused themselves with simple pleasures, glad to be warm and elated to be sharing quality time with their loved ones.

The power went off at 12:50 p.m. The sun set and wind-chill numbers became unfit for the warm-blooded. We had plans to meet another couple for dinner at Sadler’s Ordinary, a quaint spot in Marlborough. We got out of the house early, had a cup of coffee at Barnes and noble, then hit Route 2 for the ride to Sadler’s. We hoped all along that the power would be back by the time we got home, but nothing doing.

As we pulled into our neighborhood, we found the road to be closed. What lay before us looked like footage from London in 1942 after a German air attack. A utility pole had been snapped in two, leaving the transformer broken in pieces on the ground. Wires hung low. The intrepid CL&P linemen braved the numbing cold to put things back in order but we could see it would take awhile.

We circled around into Burlington and returned home. Thankfully, son Jason and his girl Brittany kept the home fires burning.

We talked, I read my stirring Humphrey Bogart biography by candlelight and the fire raged. Finally, a few minutes before 2 a.m., the lights went on. By Wednesday morning 10 a.m., we had telephone service, internet and cable TV restored. Our time of living like the Pilgrims came to a close after 12 hours.

I went around the house to make sure everything was in order and noticed the toaster oven was on. I had eaten the pizza cold (still pretty tasty) but we didn't think of turning the oven off when the power went out. If the power had been restored when we were in Marlborough, we may have come home to a smoldering pile of embers. As it turns out, we were fortunate that events transpired in the manner they did.

I’ve gotten very philosophical over the years. That, combined with my deep respect for what our forefathers had to endure, set me to reflecting on how thankful we should be for the luxuries we have.

Denied of watching more meaningless bowl games or some obscure college basketball, I picked up a book with cold fingers and read through squinting eyes. So what! We weathered the storm. We could have spent the night at my in-laws home or even at a local inn but that could have resulted in disaster, one of the worst of our lives.

Somebody was listening to our prayers, and a couple hours without TV, telephones and internet access didn't do us any harm. In fact, it did us some good.