Family Practice: Weathering the stormWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It started out as a sunny, sweltering summer day, an all-too-familiar scenario as of late. My children had friends over for the afternoon and we committed to inside play as temperatures threatened to hike their way up to the top of Mt. 100 Degrees. By late afternoon, however, the weather gods had taken on an even more ominous tone of intimidation.
A few raindrops quickly boiled up into a fast and furious summer storm. Within a few minutes, the trees in front of our house were leaning at an awkward angle, decent-sized hail began to fall from the sky and our power was no more. Despite the absence of tornado warnings, I decided to lead the little five-piece band of children at our house into the protective hollow of our basement for safety.
As we re-emerged from our zone of security, my son, Jack, quickly noticed a medium-sized tree branch, obviously out of place, sitting in the back corner of our yard. I peeked out for a better look and quickly discovered that our neighbors’ handful-of-trees yard now appeared fully forested due to a large, halved tree repositioned on its side. Their grassy yard from earlier in the day had turned into a single chaotic vision of leaves and limbs. Whoa.
As it happened, my middle daughter, Laney, had knocked my cellphone out of commission earlier that day with the help of half a gallon of pink lemonade. I was actually rather enjoying the day off from incessant beeping until I realized that, post-storm, we were now completely devoid of home-to-outside-world communication options.
Were my family and friends OK? Were they wondering if we were OK? Were we OK?
Each minute dragged on like an hour as I gathered my troops and quelled their morbid curiosities about our dire situation. Did this mean no TV? No Wii? No computer? Gasp! All we had left at that moment was whatever charge remained on our family’s lone iPod Touch. Still, no Internet capabilities. Alas!
We huddled together in group apprehension as we contemplated how we would ever manage to meet up with the outside world again. Do we go on foot? Do we go by car? Do we await a good knight in shining armor to stage a valiant rescue?
Ten minutes or so later my husband walked in from work, I snagged his cellphone and texted our guests’ mom to let her know that all was well. We then decided to indeed go exploring on foot. The tree in our neighbors’ yard, which miraculously left anything of importance untouched, quickly paled in comparison to the tree that laid completely across our road about a block down. We ended up spending a good chunk of power-free time watching cars drive most of the way down our street, turn around and drive right back from whence they came.
There was no denying we had entered “Little House on the Prairie” mode. We quickly learned that, electronic entertainment aside, there really is a lot to think about, or rather a lot we often don’t think about. Food without the ability to heat or cool, 100-degree days without air conditioning or fans, dirty laundry without the use of a washer and dryer and dark bathrooms with no light source were interesting pieces of the from-progress-to-primitive puzzle before us.
We also quickly realized how much everything we have ever learned is intimately tied to which era of modernization our world happened to be in when we entered it. Having that which has become second nature to us so quickly taken away leaves us, frankly, stupefied. I wandered around my house flicking light switches that I should have known wouldn’t work, “checking” a computer that wasn’t on and then, conversely, walking outside to wonder if my car would still function during the power outage. Having to switch gears is all very confusing at first.
Still, it can also be for the better in some respects. We enjoyed talking to neighbors as we all desperately sat in our hot cars trying to restore charges to our all-important cellphones and other miscellaneous devices. We spent time checking on family and even invading the homes of the “lucky” ones still running on electronic juice. It was an eye-opening and not completely horrific 27 hours, yet I am fine living another five years or so in the metaphorical dark before I need another reminder of just how good I have it.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania.