After the storm, you wake up at first light without the aid of an alarm, having "slept" in your cloths. There are no TVs, no computers and no lights- because the power failed hours earlier. Outdoors there is an unusual silence that is broken only by the low "putt-putt-putt" of some of the neighbor's generators. There is no traffic as fallen trees and downed wires prevent cars and trucks from going anywhere.
Our community is on the tip of a point of land that juts into Chesapeake Bay with one road in and out. Thus all around us, the water that had previously been whipped into crashing waves is now calm and glass-like. The roar of the enraged water is gone and seemingly all at once the neighbors step from their homes to do "the walk." The streets are peppered with leaf greenery ripped from the trees and the normal background sound of insects, birds and other critters are silenced because they are all still sheltered from the storm. Even the screeching seagulls have flown far inland and sheltered in a dumpster or landfill somewhere. It is one of the few times that all of the neighbors come out, all at the same time, with nothing better to do other than to walk around and talk to one another. After all, there is nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. Everyone tours the damage asking the same basic questions; "How'd ya' do?" "Did ya' come through okay?"
Eventually life settles into getting along without the power company being involved. Cooking done on outdoor grills, food preserved by the ton of ice you bought or froze yourself while getting ready for the storm. Toilets flushed with buckets of water either stored in your bathtub, or scooped from the bay, or bailed from the kid's swimming pool. Everyone helps everyone just because someone may need help. Soon kids actually play outside. Folks relax on their decks or in their yards simply doing nothing because nothing can be done. Families join one another cooking, eating and sharing food in the refrigerator because it won't last long anyhow. Often the three day cooler works better that any other appliance. As darkness falls, assorted forms of off-the-grid illumination are used and soon everyone goes to sleep early, because there is no reason to stay up late.
It's just like camping- only instead of picking up your home and taking it back to civilization when you are done, you simply stay in your house and wait for civilization to come back to you.
Posted by Wes Oleszewski at 9:53 AM