On Friday morning I woke at 4 am to the house shaking. A pine had dropped a giant limb. It had missed our roof but hit the road. We still had power, and I had a new book idea. Just like that.
I fell back to sleep and awoke to a blue dawn. My woods were enchanted. The white pines had grown straight and tall over a hundred years. They do not sway much in the breeze except when coated in ice. That morning the top-heavy tree swerved and dipped, as if land had become sea.
Aboard my mudroom deck, I watched nature wage her battle. Loud as gunshot, branches snapped from great heights followed by the breaking glass tinkling of ice. There was the Christmas tree scent of fresh-cut pines. Window lights glowed orange, flickered and then were snuffed out. How musical, how beautiful and how deadly. Smoke blurred into mist as woodstoves were lit.
We are prepared after living through the ice storm of ‘98. That was our first winter in Maine, and our small house had this woodstove set awkwardly at the base of the stairs. It seemed dangerous with a baby and a three year old, but we didn’t remove it. So many houses had these stoves; there had to be a reason. The woodstove kept our house in the 60’s and heated canned stew for a week with no power.
Now we always have a cord of kiln dried wood, fluorescent lanterns and other storm supplies to hand. It’s no good rummaging in the basement when it’s dark. We bought a gas powered range that can be lit with a match. The wood burning stove is fine for toasting bagels (am I a transplanted New Yorker?)
Resigned to the latest storm, I curled up like a cat before the fire. The children were bouncing off the walls with excitement for a “snow” day. Other neighborhood children joined my lot to keep warm. I was pleased to see the kids playing like I had before computers.
After playing the Moonlit Sonata on the piano, my daughter wanted to bake cookies. We can’t regulate the oven without power. She invented a new dessert (can you tell that she’s half English?)
Ribena (red currant juice concentrate)
Sift clean snow and pat down lightly
Pour a little bit of Ribena slowly into the snow
Resift and Repeat until well mixed
Put 2-3 TBS of the Ribena slushy into each cup
Layer with a thick coat of yogurt
Add Clementine garnish
By the time she’d finished “cooking,” work crews had cleared the road. The eaves were dripping icicle rain.
The pines were now more green than white.
It was safe to play ice hockey in our driveway. While the children were outside, I tended the fire and thought about the novel that I’d write after NOT CRICKET.
By afternoon the sun was burning through the mist, and I’d chosen a working title. The story will have to wait its turn. When NOT CRICKET is ready for my first reader, I’ll use the down time to start my next project. The new idea is a bud encased in ice.
The children’s spirits rose to Christmas morning frenzy when they spotted Central Maine Power workers on the job.
I was reading in the fading window light when I saw the hall glowing like sunset. I was sorry to put down my book and rejoin the digital world. One day without power is fun, but more than that is a burden.
This ice storm robbed over a million people from Pennsylvania to Maine of electricity. Our neighbors across the woods were still without power days later. The hum of generators buzzed like lawn mowers on a summer day.
By the next morning, blue skies had returned. The trees shined brighter than diamonds. If you can survive the storms, there is no place better than Maine for winter. Snow is in the forecast for today!
Blog Watch: This post is the antithesis of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Check out the link to May Dreams Gardens if you've had enough blooming ice.