The power went out.
We knew storms would be rolling through so we were prepared. We had the closet cleaned out and ready to hold us and the dogs if the tornado watch turned into a warning. There are flashlights in a couple of different rooms and the house is small enough that even in the dark I could find them. I’d tested them earlier and, in spite of not having been used in a long time, they worked. We also have good old fashioned matches and I’m pretty sure we’ve got candles somewhere, if it came to that. Phones were charged.
The striking about the power going out, the part that always surprises me, is the sudden silence. Even with the TV off, even when the air conditioning or heat aren’t running, the house has a steady hum as long as electricity is running through it. It’s only noticeable when it’s gone.
The refrigerator, of course, has its own pulse as coolant streams through its veins, a sound pitched just above that of the rest of the house but also, because of its constancy, we only become aware of it when it’s gone. And with the power out the countdown begins. We keep the refrigerator closed to keep the cold in for as long as possible but there’s still the looming threat of spoilage, the possibility that we’ll lose the highly perishables: dairy products, poultry, eggs. Well, the sour cream will probably be fine. The freezer, on the other hand, is in greater danger. How long will the ice cubes hold out? The ice cream? As soon as the frozen shrimp thaws it’s done for. It wouldn’t be right for sushi even if we could plug in the rice cooker.
At least right now the weather is on our side. It’s the middle of spring so the weather is just temperate enough that the house wouldn’t get too cold, which can happen in winter, or too hot, which would happen in summer.
Still I made plans for the long term. There are some large rocks in the backyard I could arrange into a fire pit for cooking. Or I could just use the neighbor’s fire pit. They wouldn’t have to know. I’m pretty sure they weren’t home since their lights were out.
The dogs had all been out and taken care of business, so they were fine. I thought I could always go outside too, before I remembered the plumbing doesn’t need electricity.
We still had the cars, and once the worst of the storms passed there were plenty of places we could go. The power has gone out before and we’ve always managed. I just always want to be prepared for whatever could happen. I want to stay calm and know that we will get through.
I was in the middle of reassuring myself when the power came back on, and everything was fine again. Still that was a pretty grim thirty seconds.