A current affair

First Night

Well, we’ve had our first major power outage. Where I live, I have lost power in past years for as long as three days. This time I was only without power for two and a half days.

A couple years ago, my homeowner’s insurance told me I had to ditch my woodstove or build another chimney. They didn’t like my woodstove going into the same chimney as my furnace. The fact that I don’t use the furnace didn’t matter. So I put in a pellet stove and powered vented it outside. Pellet stoves require electricity.

The old soapstone mill and dam on Church Street in Chester. Photo provided by Ron Patch.

Mid-morning of the first day I lost power. Not to worry I told myself it’ll be back on shortly. Hours later as it grew dark I was without a phone (I don’t own a cellphone), internet, TV, heat of any kind, or running water.

I sat on the sofa with a couple candles but they didn’t provide enough light to read. So what to do? As the house grew colder I put on additional layers of clothing and began talking to Henry. Henry ain’t worth much as a rule, but I’m glad he was here to help pass the time.

I have a 200-year-old grandfather clock that kept time for me. I sat and listened to its loud tick for long periods of time. It’s about now that I realize I might be in for a long haul.

Sitting in the dark I heard what sounded like a large truck coming out of Stoodley Road. I thought, that’s a Green Mountain Power Company truck! Jumping up, I raced to the window to see the truck. Disappointment, no a bummer, it wasn’t the power company.

Settling back in I noticed it was only 8:30 p.m. and I don’t go to bed till after midnight. Got some time to kill but how? I keep thinking the power will come back on any minute. But the hours pass by.

I looked out my back window over to the neighbors and noticed they have lights on. They must have a generator Henry says. Boy, do they go to bed with chickens.

  Second Night

I have a new-fangled LED flashlight that became a source of entertainment. I noticed when I cast the flashlight beam on the wall, a bright circular beam on the wall revealed itself.

It was when I stood three feet from the wall, casting the beam that I noticed the pattern it created on the wall. The circular beam had a bright center. From the outer edge of the bright center were rays of lighter and darker light radiating outwards. Looking close I see it resembles a human eye. Now this is getting interesting.

I would move closer or further from the wall. As the beam became larger or smaller, the pattern of light on the wall morphed into different patterns.

Here’s a question for you. If you stand in the dark in front of a mirror to see yourself in the mirror, do you shine the light at the mirror or shine the light on yourself?

Next I get the idea to create shadows using my fingers to cast images of birds and animals on the wall. This’ll keep you entertained for a couple hours. You know you’ve reached peak performance when you burst out laughing.

I also have a NOAA weather radio from 1980. This radio was my only contact with the outside world. The transmitter is on Mt. Ascutney they tell me. Now this is a recorded monotone voice that provides weather forecasts for Springfield, Lebanon, and Brattleboro. The recorded message plays the same forecast over and over, running-time maybe eight minutes. Well, after an hour or so, I guessed I had that memorized.

Daytime hours were productive. While it was cold I managed to file many documents. In going through boxes of stuff and drawers, I found several interesting documents that I had forgotten about.

Henry pointed out how much money I saved by not using any electricity or pellets during this time. He promised to calculate the savings, but I have yet to see his report. What did you do during the power outage?

The photo with this article is from the 2019 Chester Historical Society calendar. It is a photo of the Old Soapstone Mill and dam located at the railroad crossing on Church Street. The calendars are available for purchase at Lisai’s Market, Chester Hardware, Stone House Antiques Center, Erskine’s Feed Store, Salon 2000, the Framery of Vermont, Vintage Vermont Antiques, and Chester Town Hall. Hurry before we sell out.

 This week’s old saying is from Mel Brooks. “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.”

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