Saturday night we had the first snow of the season, a thick, wet snow that clung in clumps to the branches and unfallen leaves. We lost power in the evening, and our usually reliable generator didn't come on, so we used candles and flashlights. Through the night we periodically woke to the "whu-ump" of slabs of snow sliding down the roof and thunking to the ground.
Such a brief, gentle-seeming storm--fat flakes drifting slowly down--but in the morning we found a surprising amount of damage. The heavy snow tore limbs off pine trees, and in the pasture one thirty-foot tree toppled completely. All over the yard, bushes tipped to one side and the boughs of trees bent to the ground where they were trapped in the snow.
We went out with brooms and rakes to beat the snow off the branches. When we unweighted them, the branches sprung up, seeming joyful at their release and shaking off the last of their snowy burdens. A couple of tall lilacs had bent so far they had pulled their root balls from the ground. These we seized and pushed upright, propping up their trunks with rocks and logs until their roots poked back into the ground.
All over the neighborhood, branches or whole trees had fallen on power lines. School was canceled Monday because most of the town was still without power. Luckily, Leo fixed our generator Sunday, and we had lights and heat in the core of the house. Our neighbors were too independent to come shelter here, but a number of them went to stay with relatives. We took milk and meat from the warming refrigerator and set them outside in the melting snow. Then this afternoon, the lights came on, followed a few hours later by the phones and the internet.
The interlude reminded me of California thunderstorms where we lost power when I was a child. We made a fire in the fireplace and cooked hot dogs for supper and crept off to bed in the real dark. It was an adventure, always short, and in California serious cold was never a problem we had to worry about. We just snuggled deeper in our blankets.
Here in Massachusetts once when the kids were young and we were facing a third winter night without heat, we checked into a nearby hotel. In the dining room that evening we looked around and saw all our neighbors. I think that was when we decided our next house would have a generator. With a generator, losing power is not quite such an adventure, but at least it's warm.