Monday, February 2, 2009


For over an hour I tromped through the 9 inches of snow and ice that had fallen 3 days earlier and knocked out both power and phone service to all of Adams county. When we arrived at Prairie Pond Woods to remedy a potentially frozen water pump and pipes, it was overcast and the land grayed out. But today, after the blue sky welcomed the sun back to its arcing route, the landscaped gleamed glorious!

Every tree and exposed vegetation not buried by snow was encapsulated by frozen rain. The woods glistened white and brittle, except where the damp, darkened bark contrasted almost black against the mounds of snow heaped on their branches. The prairie looked like acres of cotton balls, where thick crusts of white covered mounds of big bluestem and Indian grass. In every direction I looked, almost constant white, with bursts of prismatic color nearly too intense for my eyes. It was magical!

I took more than 200 hundred photos over two days, and grieved that, for my skill level anyway, it was impossible to truly capture the magic of each vista. In my heart of hearts, I also wanted badly to share this beauty, but the lack of electric power (no water) and no phone (not even cell towers were functioning), prevented me from inviting anyone to come and see it.

After I could not think of any angle or place where I had not taken a picture, I returned to the house, and we continued on with the business of “surviving” the ordeal that began the evening we arrived in the dark…and I mean…DARK. It was spooky.

Craig mentioned on the drive down that he planned to string a 50-foot extension cord, and then some, to the water pump down the slope behind the house so the lights in the housing unit would keep the pump from freezing.

“Really?” I asked, rather disbelieving. “And where are you going to get that many extension cords?”
“I’m going to make one…a 100-foot one when we get there…from the romex I bought at that garage sale…and then I’ve got all these other ones,” he said pointing to the back seat. There behind us laid a huge pile of neatly wound red, yellow, green, brown and off-white colored extension cords.
“Okay, whatever you say.” I said with pure resignation. I love my wanted–to-be-a-Boy Scout husband and his “can do” attitude.

So when we arrived, as if on a mission from God, he fastened male and female ends to the off-white cord by the beam of the truck headlights. We threaded it through the garage window and uncoiled it down the slope with our headlamps on and our fingers crossed. We really wanted this to work, especially since the next night’s temperature was dropping to 7 degrees. After several trips back to the garage (9 inches of hardened snow is difficult to walk in) for electrical tape, adaptors and walkie-talkies, that mission was finally accomplished. But we still had to address our relative safety and comfort in the house. Not to worry, my hubby had a plan.

Again, with the dedication of a first responder, he strung five extension cords upstairs, which all flowed from one large cord coming from the garage across the basement and up the stairs. These would power the wood burner fan, the fridge, the freezer and a couple lamps. The long cord traversing the backyard met up with the cord coming from basement and they both went underneath the garage door straight to a $13,000 generator we call the Roadtrek Van! It all worked flawlessly.

So, I write this from a battery-powered computer, near a bright window with a deck-full of snow reflecting in. The very element that took away my light now helps me see, and for that I am grateful. It is a good thing to be reminded of how fragile we are, how dependent we’ve become on modern conveniences, and how wonderful it is to experience the reward of resourcefulness. Each time we thought of some new, efficient way to do something, or figured out the best sequence of actions, we would high-five one another for being so darn capable!
After days of scooping buckets upon buckets of snow to melt by the fire for flushing, we turned our aluminum garbage can into a receptacle that will capture the snow melting off the roof soon. We went to bed before 10:00 every night and got up at 7:00, in synch with the daylight and our own tired bodies. 
After 5 days without a shower or bath, I boiled some roof water and took a sponge bath on the freezing side porch, while gazing out at the hills quickly losing their diamond-like adornment. It made me happy and content, this small act of self-care that needed only snow, flame and a thick towel. I felt like a wild woman. And, after standing there with the wind chilling my damp body, I decided I am a Wild Woman, and went inside to stoke the fire.