Amy Roberts: Powerless in the dark
I usually reserve my Sunday nights to accomplish all the chores and errands I didn’t get completed throughout the week. I respond to messages in my neglected inbox, do the laundry, pay bills, wander aimlessly around the grocery store, prepare for the upcoming work week, and generally play either catch up or fool myself into believing I’m all caught up. Sunday nights are my dedicated time slot for some form of accomplishment — specifically set aside to delight in a dwindling to-do list, albeit briefly.
Apparently, I have never paused to consider how much of my Sunday evening is dependent on eyesight.
I was one of roughly 1,400 Rocky Mountain Power customers who lost electricity for about five hours earlier this week. A power outage is rarely convenient, but it is far less so on a freezing cold night, especially when you are traveling by foot and not yet back home.
That evening I was out walking my dogs — a fairly common event. A few blocks from my house I remember thinking to myself, “Why is it suddenly so dark?” And that’s when it dawned on me — the ancillary light that seamlessly flows from surrounding homes wasn’t. Neither was there a glowing ambiance from the few street lights in my neighborhood. Even the moon’s tiny sliver was barely shining through the clouds. I might as well have been blindfolded the last mile of the walk.
Once I arrived home, I realized I was locked out of my house. I’d gone out the garage and the door doesn’t open without electricity. So now I was cold, nearly blind, and forced to think like a robber.
After several breaking and entering attempts, it became clear I was in no way prepared for a lack of light. My camping head torch was out of batteries, my phone and laptop were both displaying the red “critically low on juice” icon, and my solar powered lantern hadn’t seen the sun in a while. On top of this, I’m currently fostering a dog for Paws for Life, and she happens to be deaf. So, not only could she not hear, she couldn’t see.
I obviously wasn’t getting anything on my to-do list done. Nor could I make dinner (electric stove) or while away time online (no WiFi and low batteries on all things embossed with an apple). Television was out of the question and reading by candlelight lost its appeal when Benjamin Franklin flew a key on his kite in 1752.
As I sat in my house contemplating how to pass the eerily quiet time with two dogs who don’t listen and one that can’t, I offered my heartfelt thanks to the universe for allowing me to be born after the invention of the lightbulb.
I don’t consider myself a technology addict, or even all that difficult to entertain, but it is amazing how quickly your world locks up when the electrons stop flowing. After the third hour of lights out, the house was starting to get quite cold and the refrigerator a bit warm. So, like a true pioneer woman, my survival instincts kicked in and I moved all the wine outside into a snowbank. Priorities.
Eventually power was restored. A fact I was made aware of when jolted awake by every light in my house blinking back to life and anything plugged in rudely blaring in full alert.
All in all, five hours of darkness helped me see the light — I clearly need to be more prepared. Spare batteries, a key to my house, external charging ports, possibly even a generator are all on this Sunday’s to-do list.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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A bounty of powder days still means that, at some point, the snow needs to be plowed.