I did survive the big blow. I have to tell you that I love writing about historical settings, but being thrust into the 18th century in such a cruel was was not fun. I spent the better part of the week before preparing for the arrival of Irene.
I took all the vegetables that we'd frozen over to my daughters big chest freezer. I cooked the meat in the freezer and we dined well. I bought some cans of ravioli, beefaroni, even the dreaded potted meat. I filled up the small pool for flushing. I was ready. Then came the storm. Not a mere 6 to 8 hours but all in all a total of 26 hours of wind and rain.
Our power went off at 10:30 Saturday morning just when things were beginning to wind up. I should have known something was wrong because they had predicted no loss of power until 3 p.m. So we armed ourselves with the weather band and moved to the garage to watch the storm's fury. The rain lashed the pine trees out front and each pine cone that feel was like its own guided missile. I believe we cringed as each one fell on the roof banging, thumping, and creating mischief. In my mind I pictured a creature similar to Pan sitting in the boughs of the tree gleefully laughing as he lobbed each one toward the house.
As night fell it did get dark. Our home is surrounded by trees blocking the setting sun - had there been one. Storms at night have their own terror. The inky darkness cloaks them, taking away your ability to create a defense. Armed with only a flashlight, you do feel like that gothic heroine poised to open the door and be confronted by the boogie man. But by noon the next day, the clouds were finally lifting, leaving behind the mist of humidity so thick it hung in low level clouds just above our heads.
But we were all alive, no damage to the house, and all safe. By the afternoon, the children ventured on the roof to help with clean up. Here is where things got interesting. My dear son who shall for the sake of his life remain nameless swept off the roof. Not bad you say. Oh, I agree, however he swept all the dirt and the oily residue from the roof into the pool I'd filled for flushing. My once clear water was now loaded with dark black sludge, rotting pine needles, and other gunk. The trash floating would stop up the commodes. I tried not to get angry. I really just took a deep sigh and walked away.
Instead of enjoying the peace and writing, sigh... I made two trips a day to get water from my daughter in order to flush the commode twice a day. Those of you with male children understand the plight. Rarely do they flush anyway but without water they do love to remind you every five minutes, you should do something about that mom, its gonna smell. Well, duh.
Finally on Monday afternoon, I went to my daughters to hide. I showered. Blessed water. I washed clothes and cooked a hot meal. Best of all I heard another woman's voice. I thought about all those women on the plains, the endless days of loneliness while their men folk were rounding cattle, following the trail up to the rail heads and back. Doing all the work plus tending to their children. Then in the lamplight, with only the comfort of their bible, they waited.
I understand them better now. I can hear their voices calling to me telling me how lucky I am that it was only 40 long hours not months and months of darkness. I marvel at how they held body and soul together and did not kill their young. I am humbled from my beginnings and I do love a flushable commode.