I smiled as I reached for a light switch this morning. I hope that it will be a long time before I take electric light for granted again. As with any major event, the recent extended power outage had its obvious “yin” downsides and had the more positive “yang” we sometimes have to look to find.
Positives from the weekend without electricity include all the reasons that those of us who are associated with the senior high rise are so proud to be where we are. Raquel and Missy of the Old Bank Deli brought their meat cutter and meats and cheeses about to be lost for lack of power down to Allegheny Hills where they cut it all up to aid in keeping older residents fed. The Uni-Mart gave away bags of ice at risk of melting. Friends of the building included Janet who dropped by regularly to bring soup, help work, and Bill and Mary who came with food platters.
So many people living in the building stepped up by cooking and doing dishes nearly non-stop, and checking on less-able neighbors, delivering meals to those who could not easily come out, delivering flashlights, walking with those who were reluctant to walk alone down steps by flashlight when the generator succumbed and had to be replaced.
Still, as new high-rise resident, Carol, put it when asked how she was doing with all the challenges of this powerless event, “I can’t let this get me down when I think of those people going through the fires in California. They really have it tough.”
Some residents took advantage of the highly discounted rates offered by area motels with power. Most stayed in place. Some went with family. Resident Yvonne shared, “Something good came of this when I was taken to stay with my granddaughter and her family. I had a sleep-over with three great-grandsons. That would never have happened if it weren’t for all this. It was a memory builder.”
Personally, I couldn’t print brochures that would have had a big error in them, but that was avoided by my being forced by the power outage to delay the printing long enough that I learned of an important change in the brochure’s content before I could waste paper and ink. And at the hospital where I also work, another hospital worker who knows me only from occasional, brief conversations there handed me a paper with her phone number and told me to call it when I needed somewhere to be that had heat. Lisa barely knows me, but she meant it. She would have taken me home with her right then had I allowed her to. She was not the only one who offered. Maybe you have your own positive story.
I have heard some blame for the power loss being given to not enough tree trimming this past summer by the power company, but one need only take a drive to see the trees still lying across power and phone lines to realize that the trees that fell were ones farther into the wooded areas. Those trees were simply tall enough to reach those wires even from as far back as they had stood. Their roots were just not deep enough to stay firm when so much soggy snow soaked in around them.
That snow was the strangest I have ever seen. At first, I thought that it was merely a good packing snow of the type that is perfect for snowman building, but after walking on it only a short way, I realized that it was even stranger in that it stuck to the bottoms of my boots as no other snow ever had. From my house door to the street, I grew at least two inches taller by accumulating more snow with each step until it felt as though I were walking on stilts. Later, walking to my car over a friend’s gravel driveway produced about 30 chunks of stone on the floor of my car after I drove far enough to allow the packed snow on the bottoms of my boots to melt off. Even the weight of that gravel was no match for the stickiness of that strange snow. For as destructive as those flakes were, I found that snow to be fascinating as well.
All the same, I would rather not continue to be fascinated by the weather if it means going through more of the same. Reading books by battery-operated lanterns is fine for a while, but after only two days I was going through laptop withdrawal. I would like to place an order for more normal snowfalls for the remainder of winter. How about you?
[Gayle Wright is a mental health counselor doing area agency and hospital social work. Write to Gayle at: LV MY TAKE ON IT, 435 Broad Street, New Bethlehem, PA 16242, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org where your anonymity will be maintained in keeping with all current HIPAA standards.]