Friday, September 3, 2010

Stormy Weather

As a life-long New Englander, I’ve lived through my share of storms. The Blizzard of ’78, Hurricane Gloria, “The Perfect Storm”, the April Fool’s Day Storm, the 2008 ice storm, Hurricane Bob, even the flooding of this past spring…I survived them all. I’ve lost my car under a snowbank, I’ve been without power for a week, I’ve had no phone for a day or two, my employer has sent me home or told me not to come to work. I’ve learned to keep warm by a fireplace, to read by candlelight, to feed myself without a stove or microwave, and to keep up with the latest news by way of a battery-powered (or hand cranked!) transistor radio. I’ve learned to keep a stockpile of food, water, and batteries on hand at all times. And so have most of my friends and neighbors. So why is there always a last-minute stampede at the grocery store every single time we have a storm warning?

I suppose it’s because we New Englanders pride ourselves on being able to endure anything. And it would be pretty tough enduring a power outage if you had no batteries for your flashlights. Or being snowed in and not having any milk or bread. Or having no water and running out of bottled water. But seriously, it’s a brush with a hurricane. Do we really expect a week-long power outage? Do people honestly not have any batteries in the house? Are people genuinely convinced that the world will come to an end if there’s no milk in the fridge for 18 hours? And if it comes to that, do we really think that milk we just stormed the grocery store to get will keep unrefrigerated for 18 hours anyway?

I think the truth is that we enjoy our hardships. I’ll admit, I’ve bragged about living through the Blizzard of ’78. Yeah, the snow was halfway up the windows. Yeah, we (and by “we”, I mean “my dad”) had to shovel the front steps every half hour so the door didn’t get jammed shut with snow. Yeah, there was no school for a week because the buses couldn’t get through. Yeah, we had no power for a few days so we ate hotdogs from the freezer that we cooked over the fire in the fireplace every night. So every time a storm comes along, I think New Englanders secretly hope it’s one for the record books, and we prepare for the worst in the hope that it really is the worst – or at least, bad enough to brag to our kids about how we managed to endure Hurricane Earl back in September of 2010.

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