Last Wednesday night, our area of Los Angeles experienced 100-mile-per-hour windstorms that left 300,000 people without power, area schools and businesses closed, and a lot of cleanup from falling trees and other debris in the road. I’d never experienced anything like it in all my years in Southern California. I was humbled by Mother Nature.
We couldn’t sleep all night as the winds went on for several hours and our old windows kept flying open, and all sorts of things were banging outside all night. We had piles of leaves and branches and part of a neighbor’s fence in our back yard, along with a pillow that we finally found came from a neighbor several doors down on the opposite side of the street. But luckily, we didn’t have any major damage or lose our roof like a lot of other people.
The power went out about 2am and we didn’t get it back until two days later in the afternoon. That was two nights, two mornings, and almost two full days without power. And it got me thinking about how much we take for granted.
Naturally we didn’t have lights, and had to light candles. But we also couldn’t cook very much without a stove, microwave, or toaster oven. I managed a simple dinner on the stovetop since we have gas burners, but I wasn’t looking forward to figuring something out for the second evening, and luckily our power came back on a few hours before I had to worry about it. Our neighborhood restaurants and coffee shops did a great business for a few days.
Without power, we didn’t have any heat, and of course couldn’t use space heaters. Our house was definitely in the low 50s in the early mornings and my husband wore his fleece jacket to bed. I wore mittens a scarf around the house.
Naturally, we couldn’t use our computers or get online, so I had to walk to the library a few times a day just to get email, since I don’t have a smart phone. Obviously, we also didn’t have TV or a connection to watch DVDs, so after trying to read by candlelight for a few hours, we gave up and went straight to the local wine shop to hang out.
There is really not much you can do without power, especially when you’re freezing. Whenever I hear about people losing power, or not having it in the first place, I’ll be much more sympathetic now. Even in our house, where many evenings are spent hanging out and reading, we felt completely dependent on our modern conveniences.
Luckily for us, we still had hot water so we could take a shower. And we are very good friends with our neighbor across the street, who is on another grid and still had power, so we brought the food from our freezer and refrigerator over there and none of it spoiled.
But we had friends who were without power an additional day (54 hours total), and there are still some people who haven’t had theirs restored 5 days later. When we met our friends for a movie that second evening, after the movie, instead of asking if they wanted to come over to hang out or have a drink, my husband asked if they’d like to come over and take a shower. They enthusiastically accepted. They’d been going to work for two days without showering, and that is no fun.
The whole episode was a great exercise in gratitude for me. On top of being thankful for my husband and our love and our health, I won’t forget to be grateful every single day for all the modern conveniences we enjoy and generally take for granted.
It’s a rich life, indeed. What are you thankful for? Please share in the Comments section.