Study in Winter #2

Landscapes from Floyd County, Southwest Virginia by Fred First
My fingers are cold. The house cooled off quite a bit yesterday with neither of us here, and when I got home just before dark, the house was sullen and empty looking and somehow I knew we didn’t have power back.

I quickly refilled the Aladdin lamp, built a fire in the wood stove, and promptly picked up the phone to call AEP and get the latest dismal projection. And just then there was a whirring noise behind me. I had to stop and think what I was hearing–the sound I’ve cast a pox on so many times in our otherwise quiet home–the refrigerator motor running again!

This great reawakening was short-lived, however, though I did my part by not rushing in and turning everything ON. But lots of folks must have. Power came. And it went. But several cycles later, about 7:00, it came on for good.

But there is such a thing as too much light. Dimness covers a multitude of sins: the mess the house has become in the absence of vacuum cleaner, adequate light, and with attention turned to more immediate survival matters is now all too apparent, even two hours before first light.

So when Ann (who got home from work at 1:00) wakes up, I can tell you that vacuum we missed so much will be in MY hands for a good bit of the later morning hours. I feel some serious honey-do catching up coming my way. But at least we can do it with POWER!

And, although I grumbled about a possible AEP conspiracy and general ineptitude in our little sufferings, my hat’s off to those men who worked in icy, bitter, windy cold to restore power to “5000 households” in Floyd County alone. We appreciate your sacrifice and efforts on our behalf!

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. it’s amazing for me to read this!
    here in France it’s warm and sunny, so much so that I am spring-cleaning and the cats and puppies are sun-bathing
    are we on different planets?

  2. Fred,

    Glad you got your power back! I was talking to a checker at Food Lion last night and she said her family had been without power since Tuesday and wouldn’t get it back until Monday. They had moved into a motel since it had gotten down to 12 degrees inside their home.

  3. good to hear that you have power back….hope you get those honey-do’s done quickly and can enjoy the rest of your day! 🙂

  4. Just thinking it was probably only 70 years ago that areas like Floyd County first got electricity. What did people do for vacuum cleaners before electricity?