Monday, August 26, 2013

Kate Miller 37: Power Outage

No TV, no computers, no lights...what's left? (Food to eat, friends to talk with...old fashioned goodness.)

37. Power Outage (June 2013)
            In the middle of June, Mister had another conference to attend, only this one was in Richmond, and commuting between there and home was out of the question. And since Kate did not relish the idea of being home alone for five days, it was an easy option to drop him off in Richmond and drive the extra hour to Williamsburg to spend the time with her dear friends from Alaska, the Morttes. They always welcomed her (and Mister) with open arms, as family.
            But the drive down presented some difficulties of its own. Kate had never been one to check the weather, and as the rain began pouring, and traffic started backing up, and twigs and branches started falling on the road, she began to wonder if she was missing some vital information. Mrs. Mortte called Kate’s phone shortly after they pulled up to the university. “If you can wait a while before leaving again, you should,” she explained, “there’s a terrible storm due to hit any minute, and I hear that 64 is a crawl!”
            “Thanks for the tip!” Kate replied. “I’ll wait a while and call you when I’m leaving.”
            She and Mister strolled outside in the rain to explore the University of Richmond, a gorgeous old campus, built to be beautiful and inspire an awe of learning. They walked and talked and were almost unsure of what to do with themselves. It was like entering a strange time warp. There was a storm. And what was there to do but simply be together?
            Kate found that this was indeed the answer. When she got to Williamsburg that evening, all the lights down the main street were out. The neighborhoods and businesses alike were dark. Unmarked and unnoticed trees were down, completely blocking roads, pulling power lines down beneath them, uprooting fences, and sprawling across yards, decks, roofs, and cars.
            Wow, Kate breathed in awe. She could think of nothing else. Many of the trees and branches were impressively large and stout, not tall and thin like the birches of the north. When Kate pulled up to the Mortte’s house, everything there was dark too. But Mrs. Mortte threw open the door and said, “Welcome home!” as she always did. Kate grinned with pleasure at the familiarity and gave her a big hug.
            “Hello! This is exciting!” Kate said. “It looks like the power is out all over!”
            “Yes. You know the strangest thing is that the storm only lasted maybe twenty or thirty minutes. It just came up fast and furious and then left just as quickly!” Mrs. Mortte pointed to the trees in their backyard. “All of a sudden, all those trees were just blowing sideways! It was the strangest thing to see!”
            “It sounds incredible. But at least it’s cooled off, if the power has to be out!”
            The sky still held its rosy, after-storm glow, and for the rest of the evening, Kate and Mr. and Mrs. Mortte sat on the porch, relaxed in deck chairs, just talking. Again the thought occurred to her—what was there to do but just be together? It was pleasant, she thought, doing Williamsburg the “old fashioned way”. Sitting on the porch in the cool of the evening…all that was missing was a knitting project or a large bowl of green beans to leisurely snap as they talked.

            The power stayed off from Thursday afternoon until Saturday afternoon—but it felt longer than two days. Perhaps it was the limited options. Perhaps it was the heightened time of conversation and communion together. Kate imagined how in olden days children seemed to mature faster out of necessity. It must have been natural if two days without power can feel like five days with it! Kate thought. But the power mercifully came back with the hot weather. The temperature spiked from the low seventies to the upper eighties, and Kate, in spite of her delight in the “old time way”, was relieved to once again have an air conditioner at her disposal. After all, she thought, people can ‘just be together’ in the air conditioner too…

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