Last Friday, snow started falling in and around Pittsburgh and continued through the following day, leaving over 20 inches of snow on the ground. I was scheduled to vend at a craft show on Saturday and had spent most of Thursday trying to finish projects for the show. The show ended up having to be cancelled, but I now have extra inventory for the next show. Friday my husband took the day off of work to avoid driving home in a snowy mess if the forecast was correct. So, we headed out in the morning to run a few errands and get just a few groceries. We stopped for Chinese takeout right before heading home and even got a little extra so we'd have leftovers for the weekend. We were quite proud of how prepared we were for the snow storm, when the first few flakes started falling as we made our way home.
What we weren't prepared for, however, was the loss of power and virtually all ties to the outside world. Friday night the power started flickering around 7:30 or 8:00 pm. We decided to send our boys over to my in-laws (they have a generator) so that if the power went out, they wouldn't have to sleep in a cold, dark house. We then gathered candles and flashlights so if/when the power went out we'd be prepared. When the cable, phone, and internet went down around 10:00 pm, we climbed into bed under the covers where we could stay warm and watch the snow fall from our bedroom window. As we lay there in the dark, we could hear the loud pop of power transformers blowing, sounding like gun shot in the distance. There were occasional bursts of blue light in the sky from the transformers, as if lightning was striking as the snow fell. The wet, heavy snow downed numerous trees all around our neighborhood, some of which had taken out power lines on their way down. A little after 11:00 pm we lost power completely and my husband decided to stay up as he was concerned that a power line near our house might come down and start a fire. There was much danger of that after 11:00, but he wanted to be certain in case power was restored enough for there to be any live lines.
Saturday morning I woke up about 4:00 am and came downstairs to find my husband, still awake, on the couch, surrounded by candle light. It was quite reminiscent of trips I used to take to a mountain cabin with my friends. Since I was up to keep watch, he wandered up to bed. Shortly afterwards, I could hear the sound of a snow blower as my father-in-law was already up and blazing a trail between our houses. As I sat there, listening to the hum of the snow blower, I wished we weren't so dependant on electricity. We're so dependant on modern conveniences, it's incredibly difficult to rough it through a snow storm. The thought briefly crossed my mind that pioneers were better prepared for something like this than we were and I wished the fireplaces were still functional in my house. I'm guessing the previous home owner wasn't thinking of the rare occasions they would be necessary, when the decision to wall them in was made. Mother Nature was definitely speaking loudly through the snow, if only we would listen. Global warming is causing extreme climate change and extreme weather events like this one. It's a shame it's become such a political issue, that deniers try to claim this is proof it doesn't exist. Fortunately, groups like RePower America are working to spread the truth and have great information along with a fabulous clip of Jon Stewart here. If we were living a more sustainable lifestyle, the snow storm would have been much less inconvenient. I wonder if I can convince my husband to install some solar panels now?
Once my father-in-law was finished clearing a path, he stopped over and knocked on our door to let me know they were "open for business". My husband announced he wasn't done sleeping and wasn't leaving the house until he was, but I opted to brave the elements to go check on my boys and enjoy a warm muffin and warm cup of coffee. By the end of the day, 7 adults and 2 children were gathered together, happy to have electricity and the heat provided by the generator. We remained here, all together for 4 days, until power was finally restored late Tuesday afternoon. Cable, with internet and phone returned late Wednesday afternoon and things are now slowly returning to normal.
We were luckier than many, as we at least had a warm house to stay in. My boys have now had an entire week off of school and we were able to enjoy large amounts of quality family time and several rounds of board games. I'm grateful for family and neighbors that all came together to help each other out. The snow will eventually melt and despite the loss of a few trees and all of my boys' fish, we emerged unscathed. I was able to salvage most of the food in my refrigerator and freezer and they are both sparkling clean, if not more empty than usual. I'd love to hear other people's snow stories or any other comments you choose to share.