Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm's a-Brewin'


Even here, where we consider ourselves “hardy New Englanders,” the threat of a coming storm makes us nuts. We stock up on bread, milk, and batteries. We buy generators, sump pumps, and snowblowers. We clean out the fridge and keep the candles and flashlights handy in case the power goes out. We fill the bathtub with water and the car with gas. We cancel school and work from home and just generally hunker down until things blow over.

Most of this preparation is good planning. It never hurts to have a few things stockpiled. But the frenzy and panic that seems to accompany the planning sometimes seems a bit overboard to me. Yeah, there might be a power outage. So what? It’s October; it’s not like it’s mid-February and the temperatures will be below zero. Throw an extra blanket on the bed, wear mittens in the house if you really need to, and call it a day.

After all, most of us have been through bad storms before. Hurricane Bob, Hurricane Gloria, the April Fools’ Day Storm, and how about the Blizzard of ’78? I was nine years old when that one hit, and I remember it very clearly. No school for a week, no power for a week, my dad’s work was shut down for a week, and we had to shovel out the front door every hour so it didn’t get stuck behind the snow. Our gas range still worked and we had a fireplace, so we threw a bunch of food into a cooler (as I recall, we kept it cold with icicles broken off the eaves) and pretended we were camping. We cooked hotdogs on the fire and beans on the stove. We ate canned goods and played board games by candlelight. When it got chilly, we put on another sweater or snuggled closer to the fire. It wasn’t a hardship, it was an adventure!

I don’t intend to minimize the effects of this storm. I’m sure that plenty of people will struggle with power outages and flooding, and many of them will wish they had a generator or a backup sump pump. But the majority of people who are panicking are the ones who will be able to manage just fine with what they’ve got. So let us “hardy New Englanders” lead the way by not freaking out, but by celebrating our hardiness and survival abilities by taking whatever this storm throws at us in stride. If the power goes out, tell ghost stories by candlelight. If you’re keeping warm with a fire in the fireplace, break out the marshmallows for toasting. Since your whole family is together, spend some time just chatting and enjoying each other’s company. Don’t forget: this is the storm you’ll still be talking about 30 years from now! Be sure to make some great memories out of it.

 

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