Friday, October 7, 2016

October 7- The Test of Challenging Weather

"The next weekend we had a terrific storm. The sort of storm where the wind grabbed the cedar tree right outside the kitchen window and bent it over like a croquet wicket."
Onions In The Stew by Betty MacDonald

As news comes in about Hurricane Matthew on the east coast I recall our own challenging island weather. My Canadian daughter-in-law laughed at the island response to snow. She compared the 30 degrees below where she grew up to our balmy 40 degree winters. While it is true that rain is the most common weather condition here, sometimes a convergence zone brings us life stopping SNOW.

    Snow is a test. We have no snow equipment so removal is laborious. My husband worked for hours shoveling the small hill of our driveway only to have the one snowplow come by and fill the path. I watched his crestfallen face. He didn't get to work until 9:00 and work is 10 minutes away. He could have walked in that time.

   The big issue is losing power. Branches come careening down to the ground as the heavy snow sits on them like an elephant on a tuffet. As soon as the lights start to flicker we jump into action. Fill the wheelbarrow with wood, find the candles, hang heavy blankets over the doorways to the kitchen and upstairs to make a warm area of the living room and bedroom. Check the pipes outside to make sure the insulation is in tact.

   Locate the kerosene lanterns and fill them because the power is likely to be off for days. The longest power outage we have experienced was four days. It seems small to write this but for those four days everything stopped. No school, no work for me, and my husband needed extra time to get to his job and extra time to get back. At day three we were all are going crazy so we put on layers, boots, hats and scarves and to walked to town. The local grocery store is the hub of the island. Gossip filtered around the store about who went off the road and who got stranded off island. The coffee stand line circled around several times and then spilled out the door.

   Several hours later we trudged home, tired and ready to make dinner on the wood stove. In the evening we played the piano and read by candlelight. It sounds idyllic in words but it is truly exhausting. When the electric truck appeared down the road we whooped and hollered with joy. The test of bad weather is definitely how much resilience we have to sudden change and whether our sense of humor rises to meet the circumstances that are truly extraordinary.

I am writing for 31 days this October about Island Life. Click here to see the other days of writing.


  1. I find the differences fascinating the common ground is losing power. That is what I was dreading most when this hurricane was bearing down on us. It sounds selfish but it's the way we live - everything in our home is electric as are most homes here. And yes, life stops when the power stops. True in many ways, isn't it Gabriele? Looking forward to reading more about your island life too.

  2. We saw snowflakes here yesterday!

  3. Oh yikes! Snow already? This will be my first full winter in Minnesota and I have a feeling it will be super cold. Last year in New Years it got to -16F. I was hybernating the whole week! lol. By the way, I started reading your 31-day stories about island living and loving it! I am an island girl from Puerto Rico, so definitely look forward to the rest of your stories.


  4. The snow looks pretty but it is hard when normal life is disrupted so much. The thing I've struggled with the most in those situations is the lack of control and the uncertainty about when life will get back to normal.

  5. Ah yes, the "S" word. A few years ago, thousands of people in my community lost power. Three days before Christmas! I was without power for five days and after trying to hunker down, I gave up on Day Three and spent Christmas Eve sleeping on my mom's floor. Such a test! I'm sure I failed several parts of it but you are absolutely right when you say that ultimately, it is exhausting! It was a freakishly warm 80 degrees in my area today but I'm already praying for a mild winter.

  6. I think all of us can relate to feeling frustrated by the inconvenience of being without power. We sometimes think it would be fun to live in The Little House on the Prairie days, but when our power goes out unexpectedly for several hours or a few days, we realize how dependent we have become on it. Suddenly, living life like the Ingalls isn't very fun anymore.

    Have a great day,


What do you think?