Lessons Learned While Being a Pioneer Woman for a Day

The unthinkable happened yesterday. I woke up and my electricity was gone.

It’s been the summer of storms and many of us have been without power. I was actually lucky to only lose power for about ten hours. I woke up yesterday to no AC, no overhead fan, no refrigerator, very little hot water in my electric hot water heater, and no electronic pilot lights on my stove. Apparently it came on for about four hours during the day while I was out, but went back off from 2:30 to 8:52 PM. I know this because my DVR went back on at exactly 8:52 and started recording Design Star — for seven minutes of the finale.

We live in a neighborhood of disparate entities who don’t know each other very well.

We jokingly say that we live on the wrong side of the viaduct, even though there’s only a neighborhood street separating us and the active neighborhood just one block north. The house next door, the largest on the block, has been abandoned for four years after the deaths of my neighbors. It stands as a looming castle separating my end of the block from the other end. I just recently met the neighbor who lives on the other side of Oksana’s house; this is our tenth summer here (and I haven’t seen her since). The house next to her is a rental owned by a developer just waiting for the economy to pick up so that he can tear it down and build a McMansion, and those people recently moved out, too. We have two houses across the street where the owners apparently wish they lived on the other side of the “viaduct” and don’t socialize with our side. At the end of the block we have the man who grew up in the home we own, and since he is an appraiser, he most likely knows very well the shape our home was in when they sold it to us — not quite the condition they claimed it to be. He probably doesn’t want to be our best friend either.

Life without power brought out the best in our little neighborhood.

Thank goodness, our neighbors in the other two houses across the street are the salt of the earth. Kind and generous with their help, we work together to keep the empty house looking occupied. We take turns shoveling the snow and mow the grass in front. We keep an eye out for each other. They still had power all day, so among the three houses, we cobbled together five extension cords and strung them across the street so that we could plug-in our refrigerator. Since I no longer needed the big bag of ice left over from a recent party, I gave it to the neighbors behind us who were filling coolers with the contents of their refrigerators. We were a neighborhood, albeit a small one comprised of four houses.

I have always wanted a house with a front porch where I could sit and watch the world go by, connecting with my neighbors.

Life without front porches and porch-sitting has negatively affected our sense of community and I miss it. I sat outside in my lawn chair all evening, ostensibly watching the cord across the street. The lady with the Sheltie dog stopped to talk about the power outage; in ten years, she has never once said hello before this. Several walkers and joggers noticed the cord, successfully avoided tripping over it, and gave cheery greetings as they passed by. With our neighbors, we talked outside on the street and on our front porch into the evening. I lit some candles. I might have even had a glass of wine… or two or three. Until the electricity went back on.

The lights going on was a literal and figurative signal to retreat.

Back into our air conditioning. Back to our televisions and computers. Back to our hermetically sealed lives inside our homes. As much as I wanted to go inside and cool down, I also wanted to stay outside and keep the party going. It was getting late and people have things to do; I get it, but our day of being pioneers made me a little nostalgic for the old days of my youth on Garland Road when we sat on the rocking chairs on the front porch and the most difficult thing we had to do was avoid the mosquitoes.

Didn’t keep me from turning on the overhead fan, though, and sleeping comfortably in the AC.

I’m not really much of a pioneer. I like my modern conveniences. I’m going to have to track down an encore play of Design Star — and don’t tell me what happened! I’m a day behind on laundry. I really missed my computer, although having my trusty iPhone kept me in the loop all day. I’m back in the busy groove. Yesterday already seems like a dream — albeit one that was just a little uncomfortable.

There are limits to my nostalgia.

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One response

  1. Oh my, I’ll bet you’re happy it wasn’t today! Went out with my former boss for lunch and nearly melted although the restaurant’s food was DELICIOUS!

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