Sunday, September 4, 2011

Back Online After Irene

Whoa!  What a week!  To be honest, I loved every minute of powerlessness, in the electrical sense and metaphorically.  It is with respect to those that lost their homes - their lives - that I truly enjoyed the time with my family that was made so special by being without luxuries like tv, the Internet, hot water, night-lights.  I'm sorry, but I have nothing to complain about.

My kids and I slept in one bedroom with blankets all over the floor, did bicycle triage in the driveway then went for a ride, played guitar and made up verses to "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain" out on the deck when it was too dark inside the house.  The stars, without all the light pollution, were spectacular.  No one begged for television or Nintendo.  I was unable to do a good portion of my usual work because I had no working computer - only my iPhone - so I had to accept that slow pace that I so dream about most other days.  For five days, I was gloriously free!

As always, new circumstances provide an opportunity for adventure with food.  Hmm, let's throw out that nasty ranch sauce!  What was I thinking with that anyway?  And, what will go bad first?  I'll make a meal out of that tonight.  We tried two new restaurants, and discovered that Roly Poly actually has a couple really good vegetarian wraps.  Who knew?

After uprighting all the garden pots that had blown over, I plucked some tomatoes, beets, carrots, the last bell pepper, and combined them with market-bought eggplant and zucchini.  With a little balsamic marinade, the grill, and a pot of bamboo rice, we had a meal.  Another night, we had a roasted quash and some leftover Endive Salad with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  This has got to be one of my all-time favorites!  In the mornings, the kids had omelets while I heated coffee on the stove and learned to sip it without cream.  (I am back to cream, though, I have to admit.)

We did have one near-catastrophe:  The sunflowers.  The soil under them was so saturated, it was like quick-sand, and the giant nine-foot stalks just fell over.  But, with some patience and twine, Chad and I tied them up to the side of the chicken run, gently mushing the roots back into the soil.  Today, they are standing on their own, only a little worse-for the wear.  Five of them were genuine fatalities, and I brought the flowers in to brighten the somewhat dim kitchen table.  Now that I have the Internet back, I can easily research how to harvest the seeds!

My neighbor's ground became saturated, too, and a gorgeous red oak fell over at the root.  It took out power to their house, and they are now the only family in the neighborhood without power.  It was sad to see my sunflowers laying on the ground, but it's all about perspective.  I didn't lose an oak, and I have electricity again.

As I look around, I see that Nature has a plan for herself.  The experiment known as my garden is a microcosm of this plan.  I have new cucumbers, the tomatoes are still ripening, the pumpkin vines are crawling along, and there are brand new bean shoots climbing up their trellis.

Now we are back to normal.  While most of the nearby schools postponed their opening day until September 6th, our schools started last Thursday, only two days late.  I have restocked the fridge with essentials, and that's all we really need anyway.

Well, we are almost back to normal.  I am still getting out the guitar in the evenings, and the kids are only mildly annoyed that I won't let them watch tv.  The boys no longer need a bright night-light to go to sleep.  They're enjoying each other's company a bit more, too.  We're out of the habit of turning all the lights on, and we are only using what is most needed.  Now if only I could get Chad to shut off the air conditioning!  Well, I guess it's okay, as long as we know it's luxury and not a necessity.

I have an oven again, and I'm grateful to have it.  But, I know that sometimes the tastiest meal is the one you need - not the one you think you want.  Maybe I won't stress out so much now when I don't have a gourmet meal prepared.  I can walk twenty steps from my back yard and just pick out something delicious that Nature already prepared.

Today, I am thankful for what Hurricane Irene taught me about necessity vs. luxury.  I'm thankful for getting back to the basics with my kids for a few days.

I wish that those who are still suffering or recovering from the storm have their necessities restored and peace in their hearts.

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