As I mentioned while advocating for the New York City Marathon before it was canceled (a position I reversed on reflection and more information), Hurricane Sandy knocked out our power for 36 hours and damaged nothing—which was inconvenient but nothing more.
Right now there are something like 700,000 people still without power in New York and New Jersey. I think my parents' power is now restored on Long Island, so they can stop their old-school Queens lifestyle experiment of packing seven people into my sister's two-bedroom apartment. My folks grew up in the 30s and 40s; it must have seemed so familiar. My sister and her husband, of course, grew up in the 70s and 80s and it must have been very retro. Was it retro, Jen? Dan? So retro.
Thirty-six hours of inconvenience is nothing, compared to what people continue to endure in the poorer -- and some of the richer -- quarters downstate. But it's enough to spark the imagination, to cast about for a sort of "return" to something undefined. I start to eye the trees with curiosity about the heat potential of the wood. I put a light in the chicken coop once power came back, to encourage them to lay eggs again now that the molt is done and they're naturally slacking off. Would three eggs a day save us? Three eggs a day for a few weeks, and then slowly eating five chickens?
You light a candle and take out graph paper and start to diagram the path the sun takes across the sky, where the southern faces of the roof are. Would one of those home wind turbines fit on the property? Do I have skills I could barter for root vegetables? How long will these four sustainably-harvested Java Logs last? Can we drink the water that comes into the basement?
This can work. I've read The Yearling and the Little House books, Drop City and the Encyclopedia of Country Living. I'm practically a pioneer already!
In fact, we have to do this. We owe it to the planet! To the chilllldren! You're reaching over to shake your wife awake from her nap—to tell her the incredible news!—and before you can touch her the lights go on and your life is saved.
I've been sporadically donating to the Red Cross this week, and here are ways you can help too.