Day Five – The Water Dilemma – Wednesday; 11-2
Steve, my husband, is off to work again. He began his traveling on the third day of Snowlloween, using a branch office in another state not affected by the power outages to serve as his temporary office.
I, alone in dark this morning, awake this fifth day since the storm, and can’t sleep due to an early-to-bed routine. Using the last remaining battery charge on my laptop to record this diary to post later on my blog, I can hear a train in the next town, Windsor Locks, traveling by. This sound, and the generators running in neighbors’ yards, is the only thing I can hear. It is a silent morning as I wait for the sun to rise to warm up the house some more and provide some light.
I feel more trapped than usual today, with no power, no cell, and no one around in the house. Steve took my vehicle to work because his car was completely out of gas. The lines at the gas stations were so long, he didn’t think he could wait in one as fuel would run out in his car before getting there. We still had another old car in our garage, on its last leg, which is what I decided I would use later to take care of the beef in the cooler if I needed to do so. It has sat on the northside of the house long enough.
A week before Snowlloween I purchased this stock of local beef from a butcher by way of a friend. This meat has been in my coolers, reloaded daily with more snow and ice, but now on day five, I feared what we hadn’t cooked up yet, would not be safe to eat anymore. Checking the packages, I decided I would take ½ of them out that were still frozen, and try to put them in my brother’s freezer. I took the chance with the old car in the garage and drove to his house. He wasn’t home, and neither was his generator. Pickles and milk jug sitting in the snow by his doorsteps, I figured something must have happened to his temporary power source.
Now what? I sat at the end of his long driveway for a few minutes trying to decide if I should try somewhere else. Taking a right to continue in another direction, not knowing if the roads would be clear from trees and wires, I headed to my friend’s house, the one that got me the beef connection in the first place.
Fortunately, she was home and a generator was running. She said she didn’t recognize me when I came to the door. I had a bandana in my hair and looked quite frumpy, and I was feeling that way too. She could take the meat in her freezer, thankfully. And even more appreciated was her offer to take me to her sister-in-law’s house for my first hot shower in five days.
To be honest, I almost cried at that gesture. Of all the things we were doing without during this outage, an outage we realize would last for more days, a hot shower was the item I was craving most. I can whip up good dinners with limited ingredient, plunge my hands in icy-cold pool water for a water supply for bathroom flushes, read the newspaper by candle light in a cold room, and get up every few hours to load wood in our small woodstove in the night to just barely cut the chill in our home, but going without a shower for a few more days was going to emotionally bring me down. The grunge thing was not working for me. And the lack of communication channels with others wasn’t helping either.
None of my family members had power either so going to their houses was out, so earlier, I had written down three sources for hot showers per the newspaper – a church, an Enfield school, and a shelter. I was determined to go to one, but now, with the help of a friend, I didn’t have to. And believe me, I drove over there the moment I could. I felt it was a generous offer by this woman, a relative of my friend, who barely knew me and had a house filled with kids and family of her own, but she didn’t give me a second glance when I headed to her bathroom, saying thank you so much.
Water, it was turning out, was becoming a problem for many in surrounding towns. Boil water advisories started appearing in the newspaper, as public drinking water systems were at risk. As for us, every day, my very comical and half-full glass attitude husband would boil a huge pot of water (either from melting snow or using pool water) to take a sponge-bath in the shower before work. He joked about it constantly, but this is something I was not willing do to in the chilled morning air of our home, and thankfully I didn’t have to! For him, he found the experience amusing. His coworkers did too.
As for me, I was tired of the lack of usable water, and frustrated of not having water from the faucet to do daily clean-ups in the kitchen and house or water my plants. I missed water the most, and my houseplants were missing it too. Some started to show the lack of moisture as the soil dried up and a couple looked thirsty. Others were fine as they are the type that can handle some drought, like cacti and succulents. Yet, I knew and plants know this too, that without water, survival is challenged and limited. While some plants can adjust to temporary periods of drought by way of plant adaptations, many cannot go without water for long. Water, only second to temperature, is needed to continue growing and staying alive.
Yet, give them too much and they suffocate from lack of oxygen to their roots. And in cases where soil is water logged, plants may expell water from their leaves, as they attempt to survive. This process is something I witnessed on a plant outdoors this very day. It was growing on my greenroof with other succulents. Not having the time to attend to these plants before the storm arrived, they were covered in snowcone like ice.
While taking photos of icy covered foliage, I noticed an Echeveria, not designed for snow or the cold, had a droplet of water coming out of its leaf tip. This process, referred to as guttation, is the result of water moving up in a plant due to root pressure. It was attempting to cope with its current situation, and I’m sure the plant as well as I, hoped our current situation would not last much longer.
“To Be Continued…”