Power's out

(Wednesday, 11 July 2007) by Michele Cozzens

Power’s Out
After 15 years of stormy weather in the Northwoods, power outages come with some degree of predictability. A tornado watch and high wind warnings have been in place all day and the sky has been a never changing palate of Doppler radar possibility. One minute it was clear blue—not a cloud in site. The next minute, ominous and bulbous gray puffs block light and made it look more like early evening than early afternoon. Rain drops the size of Kennedy half dollars fell for about two minutes and then, I’m not kidding, thirty seconds later, the asphalt of our driveway showed not one sign of moisture due to the sun’s unmitigated rays.

Earlier today we went around the property and checked the feasibility of all our generators, and since then, we’ve been waiting for the power to crap out. It happened, according to one of my old-fashioned electric clocks, 22 minutes ago.

The weather up here in the Northwoods can be an unpredictable neighbor. It’s always there—always a factor. Today high winds are wreaking havoc. After witnessing my husband gather up our tattered, wind-battered shore station cover this afternoon, for which he coincidentally ordered a replacement earlier today, I also helped him move the remnants of a giant poplar tree from our next-door neighbor’s property, an abandoned home currently on the market. Already dead, the four-foot trunk blew down and blocked the driveway to both our homes. A chainsaw will need to come in and do the rest of the work. Meanwhile, I sat in the hot tub at six, with a glass of wine and one of Victoria Houston’s Northwoods mysteries in hand, and kept one eye on a giant poplar tree swaying precariously in the wind. What, I wondered, would I do if I heard a snap and witnessed the top of the tree coming in my direction? Would I drop the paperback in the bubbling water and hurl my naked body over the side and toward shelter? Or would I freeze—deer in headlights style—and allow the rough branches to pin me to certain injury? Would the glass of wine spill into the bromine-laced stew of the tub? I even neurotically imagined my obituary: Northwoods Author Pinned By Popple, Naked and Smashed.

Aah, the familiar roar of the generator has just begun. My husband must believe we’re in for a long-haul outage, which could mean anywhere from an hour to four days. Soon our resort guests will stop coming over asking if they can flush their toilets or get hot water, as all the generators fill the air with the sound of the steady purr of a fleet of outboard motors. We’ll be making a few trips into town for gasoline, but we'll do it because we know what it takes to keep city-folk happy. And what's that?


Power.

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