Not A Happy Camper

It came as no surprise, really, and at first we felt charmed: an ice storm that knocks out power just as we were going to bed anyway. At 9:30 Tuesday night, we thought maybe our fairytale luck would hold out and the power come back on just before time to get up on Wednesday. Well, fairy tales don’t all come true. We’re still without electricity, and told it might be midnight Friday (or later) that we’ll be able to get back to normal. For reasons we haven’t been told, 13000 residents of a couple of counties lost power at the same time, though the various neighborhoods are getting it restored in dribs and drabs, and looks like we’ll be among the last.

Luckily, the town of Floyd has power, so I’m at the library checking email, picking up some milk, and just generally getting out of the house as a hedge against a raging cabin fever. Ann has been home too, til this morning, and made it safely to work. We got on each other’s nerves at first, but settled into the new and slower rhythm, and had a nice evening by candle light.

Our road is still really very bad, but the hardtop roads are passable. And we’re okay with wood for heat, gas for cooking and water from the well-head (we have artesian pressure and put a faucet directly on the well casing.) I have an unread Orion, National Geographic, Christian Century and Blue Ridge Country Magazine. We have a couple of gallons of kerosene and a new wick in the Aladdin lamp. And plenty of dog food for you know who.

But even though I tried the old fashioned way of writing, my pen just didn’t want to put anything down on a legal pad, balking at the absence of cut and paste, copy and move, and quick access to the net for word-check and little bits of research. How spoiled I am.

Meanwhile, our neighbor down the road didn’t notice any change in her lifestlye. She lives alone in a house about the size of our front room without electricity or running water. Her choice. And times like this, I wish I was a little more resilient to doing without.

Chances are good I won’t be able to post again tomorrow. And dang, I’ve gotten some keeper pix from the ice storm I’m eager to show you, not to mention the two more creek ice shots in the series I started on Tuesday. So don’t give up on me, and thanks to those who emailed to inquire about our health and safety. We’re off the grid temporarily, but hanging in there. Hope you are too!

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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. Great insights! What a reminder of the simple life – to be stuck powerless in an ice storm.
    Looking forward to seeing the pictures from this storm!

  2. good thing you guys have the woodstove and gas for cooking. the area we used to live in had really bad winters and we would lose our electricity quite a bit…and didn’t have any back up heat…miserable! hope you get your power back soon.

  3. Good to here ya’ll are hanging in/out. After Doug mentioned your electrical plight I was starting to worry. Keep the fire burning.

  4. Our locateion on this side of the mountains seems to protect us from the worst of the weather. We have had very little snow and practically no ice. Three miles down the road on Squirrel Spur, the trees are iced and it gets worse towards MOD. I would say we have been blessed in that we havn’t lost electric but just as soon as I did the lights would go out.