Sunday was windy, and while it would be easy to think that the mountains don't get strong winds... just take note of the fact that buildings in our area have to be rated for 120 mph gusts. We get seasonal 80-100 mph winds a few times a year, but I think some of the current gusts have been running even above that.
Yesterday afternoon the wind knocked out power several times in the surrounding areas, and dropped power to our whole area around 5:30pm. Thankfully the wind died down completely by 6pm so I was able to get a roaring fire started without down-drafts smoking up the house. We were not sure how long the power would be out, as our friend was without power up here for a week just before we moved up here. So I kept water boiling on the wood stove and the fire stoked at a very hot burn.
I was not too worried about the livingroom/diningroom fish tanks with the fire heat, but the fish in the spare bathroom can get pretty darn cold, so every two hours I stoked the fire and put boiling water into a water bottle and floated it in the bathroom fish tank. Impressively the heat from our wood stove in the middle of the house was able to keep the bathrooms (on the furthest ends of the house) at 63 degrees, even by midnight, and the hot water bottles kept the bathroom fish tank above 72.
I am so glad that I put shutoff valves
for the at-risk pipes in the spare bath though, as I am sure the wind chill could have easily frozen pipes in the exterior walls despite the relatively balmy room temperature.
It is nice to know that we can keep the house plenty warm with just the wood stove and some water bottles, but it was even nicer when the electric kicked back on just as I finished the midnight rounds of stoking the fire and checking on fish tanks and house temperatures. But the almost 7 hour power outage sure made me realize just how noisy modern life is.
In the city or suburbs, of course, the noise is quite a bit higher than in the mountains, but it is shocking to really realize just how much noise comes solely from inside a home. Lights buzz, clocks (and fish feeder timers) tick and whir, computer fans hum, and even most power supplies make a high tiny squeal. And of course at my house, a dozen fish tank pumps hum and bubble and gurgle. And it is all just the normal background of modern life. But in a power outage in the deep blackness of a cloudy night... as you carefully make your way to the flashlights and candles that are never where you are when the power goes out... it is quiet. And not just quiet, but silent. Silent like "Did the world END and I just didn't notice?"
It is somewhat humbling to realize that for many of us only a few generations separates us from that kind of quiet. And then, in a literal flash, the squeak and hum and whir and gurgle of an electronic lifestyle is back. The darkness, and the silence, forced out.
And strangely, as if powered by electrical currents themselves, within a few minutes the winds crashed down our valley again, gaining speed and dragging away anything not strongly tied or bolted down.
I felt a little lost as the true quiet disappeared, but I was equally thankful that I could turn on some soft music to drown out the sound of the wind doing it's best to rip free trees, roofs, and everything. As cavemen huddled around the sounds and light of their fires, we huddle around our electricity using the light and sound to drown out those scary things we can't control. Even the kitties huddle together as the boom and shake of the terrific wind gusts rattle the house down to the foundation.
Today the wind continues to batter the house and tip giant pine trees further than imaginable... But my electricity hums and whirs and I am oddly comforted by the noise.