Yesterday, on the first day of December, we had our first snowstorm of the winter, complete with sleet, freezing rain, gusting winds and a power outage. I ventured outside only to take my dog for a cheap walk.
It seems power failures always happen after the sun goes down, which makes it hard to find your power-failure stuff. I’ve been meaning to put together an emergency kit, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. But I did buy a flashlight during the last power failure, and after stumbling around in the dark for awhile, I even found it. (A light would have been handy for figuring out how to turn it on though. It took awhile.)
Then I looked for my phone, the one that doesn’t need electricity. I saw it in a box somewhere not so long ago. I prowled around my house, searching likely boxes. I couldn’t find it. No matter: I don’t even like phones.
Next, I planted two candles in empty wine bottles, lit them, and basked in their glow.
All set. Now, what to do to pass the time? A dozen pleasant ideas came to mind in rapid succession, followed by equally rapid realizations that they all required electricity or half-decent lighting: things like drinking coffee, eating toast, reading, knitting, listening to music.
I was tuning my guitar when my friend Ken hammered on the back door.
“Your doorbell isn’t working,” he said.
“Neither is anything else,” I said, “The power’s out.”
“Oh, so it is,” he said, “I guess that would explain why your street is so dark.”
He thumped into the kitchen and started taking things out of a bag. I couldn’t see what they were because it was dark.
“I’m making you dinner because you’re sick,” he explained, “I hope you like frozen steak.”
Not easily stymied, Ken drove back to his place and returned with another bag, a shallow copper fondue-pot type thing and a hundred tealight candles.
He set up the fondue-pot thing on the coffee table, lit the burner and tossed the frozen carrots and green and yellow beans into the pot. When they were done, he removed them and tossed the steak into the pot. The steak said “Clang.”
I shook my head. Ken is an eternal optimist, but you can’t cook a frozen steak in a fondue pot.
While the steak sat stoically in the pot, we ate his mom’s homemade cookies and used his cell phone to call Hydro Ottawa. After three aborted attempts, we successfully navigated the automated system, waited on hold since all the customer service representatives were busy, and finally talked to Christine, who knew nothing except that the power was out and would be restored as soon as possible. (Really, why do I bother?)
As for the steak, I was wrong. It thawed and cooked in about an hour. Then the veggies were reheated and dinner was served. It was pretty good too. Kinda like cooking over a campfire where everything tastes better because you don’t expect it to and because you’re famished by the time it’s ready. Anyway it was good and it hit the spot.
“But wait, there’s more!” Ken announced after we’d eaten.
I’ve been friends with Ken since I was a teenager, and he still surprises me. He’s one of those “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade” people. We should all be so lucky to have a friend who sees a power outage and immediately thinks of Cherries Jubilee.