According to local legend, if a black and white rabbit hop across your path at exactly the same time while interlocking their ears creating an ear-archway and a gray bunny walks (not hops) through, it is believed that this gray bunny is not a simple gray bunny, but this hare is known as a Nor’Easter gray, a grim harbinger that announces its arrival with a brutal and swift moving combination of high winds and rain causing damage, power outages and public schools to be closed for an entire week.
— taken from the “All Things Connecticut: Legend and Lore for 2010”
Kill da wabbit.
“Dad, what was that?”
“I think it was a squirrel.”
“It was black.”
“There are black squirrels.”
“Maybe it was skipping?”
“It had long ears for a squirrel.”
“There’s a white one.”
“No, a rabbit.”
“What are they doing?”
“Did they get their ears tangled?”
“Are they sick?”
“Are they doing it?”
“What’s that gray bunny doing?”
“It looks like it’s, walking (not hopping) through a sort of…”
“Rabbit Ear Archway?”
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“We better get inside, it’s looking kind of cloudy.”
This was Friday afternoon. March 12th.
And so it began…
The Northeast Blows…
…or blew, that is, a lot starting on that Friday and into Saturday whistling into the wee hours of Sunday. Now, full disclaimer — I know that there are currently entire countries that have been blown, flooded, infected, invaded, and shaken from Rand McNally’s newest editions, so perspective is duly noted, and no parallels are being constructed, but, disaster is relative. A fluke snow day in Florida and the kids all celebrate, but the orange farmer loses half his crop. Some people round these parts lost power, lost porches, trees, homes, and in half a dozen cases, friends and family. Power lines swung like thick wicks at the end of a Roman candle. Transformers exploded. Crews were being gathered from Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and probably other places too , but trying to read a license plate in the dark can be tough. Roads were closed and temporary tunnels were cut through great bundles of twisted trees. The hardware stores had a sale on chainsaws.
Franklin, Edison and all those other pushers.
During a power outage, the only thing that seems to be brightly illuminated is the dependence on electricity. I’m a big old lightning-strike-my-key-at-the-end-of-a-kite junkie. Sure, the first few hours can sometimes be a fun thing. A dark and quiet curveball, where the only noise is a click of a flashlight, the flicker of a flame and the roll of the dice on some Parker Bros. game. I’m sure when this happens, a lot of people run their fingers over the dusty bindings of their books, finding the big one with name “Dickens” and start reading.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
(You mean you don’t read from the family Dickens every time there’s a power outage?)
(You mean you can’t find your family Dickens book?)
(You mean you don’t have a family Dickens book?)
(You think “family Dickens” is a strange combination of words that lends itself to a whole bunch of inappropriate euphemisms?)
Well, whatever your custom is when the lights go out, I think after the initial “wow, it’s really interesting to ‘feel’ my way to the kitchen” having something you depend on without much thought, suddenly unplugged, can get old fast.
The Iceman (used to) Cometh.
A big old wooden box, insulated with heavy (and probably toxic) metals. That was the Frigidaire of the past. Of course, to keep things cool, a big block of ice would be taken from train and brought to your house. Or you go pick it up. With a horse and a buggy. Or however you’re planning on traveling for this tangent of mine. Try hot air balloon — it’s your choice for mode of transportation, but remember, this big block of ice is heavy, it melts, and it’s…well, cold. I bring up the refrigerator, because it is one of the first thing people lament during an extended power outage.
“Don’t open the door! We’ve got to plan out what we’ll get. Time is not on our side.”
There the family stands, trying to remember what shelf had what perishables. Is the giant Costco ketchup bottle blocking the milk? Is the ham and turkey in the vegetable drawer and if they are, who put them there? Will the box of Arm and Hammer somehow work its magic and preserve all of our food? Can it do that? I know you can brush your teeth with it?
Food gets spoiled. Nights get cold. The Television sleeps. Dinner is a cold can of soup sitting around a quickly burning menorah (“where did we put the regular candles!”) or trying to stomach the sweet smells of the “Cotton Candy Carmel Apple” scented candle that’s giving you the only light in the kitchen. As you stare at the electrical outlet on the wall, you notice for the first time, the outlet looks like a face. A surprised face. Two eyes and an open mouth as if to say “I’m just as shocked as you?”
Day 1, day 2, day 3 and so on…no power. Makes you want to drop kick the Dickens.
I’m not sure that anyone could “Be Prepared” for this storm. It came in suddenly. We had word that we’d be in for a lot of rain, but the wind…oh boy, the wind. I was taking our dog Parker out and it was difficult for him to sniff out the perfect spot for him to sign his name. Tree branches were flying all around us. Wind and rain kept blowing him off balance. Parker looked up at me as if to say “Um, I’m gonna’ fly something by you. How ’bout we go back inside, you lay down some newspapers and we do this old school? We’ll file this one under ‘special circumstance’ okay? Because, right now, it’s like I got a 70 mph bidet power washing my butt every time I start to perch.”
String of Lights.
The whole town laid out like that last string of holiday lights you find at the bottom of the box marked “Festive Stuff.” Plug it in and one section, lights, the other section, no lights, further down the string, lights. One bad bulb can wreck an entire string. Turns out, a couple of blown transformers can wreck and slow down an entire community. We were lucky, our bulb stayed lit, but this string of lights went back in the box — it’s either all or nothing.
And for a whole week, the correct answer was: “Nothing.”
The public schools were closed for an entire week. For safety reasons, for the sheer mechanics of it all, they simply could not provide schooling. I can understand that — driving around and seeing bus routes under trees draped with deadly garlands of high voltage — it made sense. I just worry about next year. Snow is one thing. Ice, another. Last year, however, schools were intermittently closed due to Swine Flu. Then they were closed for H1N1 (same flu, new name.) This year, the kids were removed from their routines by a brutal Nor’ Easter. What’s on the schedule for next year? I don’t even dare speculate, but you can’t count anything out. Maybe this is some cosmic way of telling our school boards that the academic year needs to be shortened. Next year, if there’s an outbreak of Mean-Seagull (The rare phenomenon of Seagulls gathering together to terrorize school children with random acts of ‘quizzing’ using a blend of eerie Seagull-English) then I think we need to re-evaluate the calender.
Hop along little bunny, hop along.
At the end of the week, the majority of people had power. The supermarkets shuffled out (I hope) the expired and in with the “fresh untils.” Today was school as usual with kids eager to see their friends at school, and kids who kept asking “are you SURE we have power?” Parents who had to improvise a week of activities are getting back to their routines. Things are returning to normal. That is, until the next visit from the Nor’ Easter Bunny.
You do believe in it, don’t you?