"The fog creeps in on little cat feet."
This line from the Carl Sandburg poem, "Fog" came to mind Monday afternoon, almost a week to the hour we lost power in our house. Only Monday afternoon, as I was walking through the center hall of my colonial home, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. The hall light was on at the head of the stairs on the second floor. I thought to myself, "When did you come on?
I felt as if a visitor had entered my house without my knowing it. Maybe we should look to the power that comes into our homes as just that -- visitors, for with climate change producing frequent storms, we never know when the power will leave us nor when it will return. As I write this, with another pending storm approaching, I wonder how long I will be able to turn the light switch on and off at the head of the stairs.
What a week it has been, hasn't it? I can't wait to finish writing this column because then I will be able to take a shower for the first time in a week.
Monday, I also celebrated a warm house for the first time in a week. I've gotten so used to being cold that with the thermostat set at 69 degrees, I had to start taking off the top layer of clothing because I was so warm. I've been wearing layer upon layer. Also, I made my first pot of coffee in a week. I remember last week just after the storm, driving around town in search of a cup of coffee that I could buy. I discovered that one of our local donut shops was open with a long line waiting to buy coffee. I couldn't believe my luck. When most of my town was out of power, this little shopping plaza had power. They could have charged $5 for a cup and I would have bought it. But, this retailer was kind enough not to take advantage.
I noticed a lot of good coming from businesses and individuals this past week, especially my neighbors, who were kind enough to give me a hook-up to a generator so that I was able to plug in my refrigerator, a heater and a light. This went on for days and days as they also checked my house throughout each day to pump the water that had risen in the basement. Luckily, the basement had only accumulated about seven inches of water, but enough to require consistent pumping, as Long Island Sound had risen pretty close to my house, which stands a good four blocks from the shore.
I met one neighbor who I had never met before because it was only last year that I had returned to the block where I had lived many years ago. He was one of three immediate neighbors who kept a consistent watch on the water level in my basement and also made sure that the generator was always filled with gasoline. I learned that four of us were sharing the one generator. I said to one neighbor that it is times like this that you really find out who your neighbors are.
Periodically throughout the day we casually would find ourselves meeting on the sidewalk, sharing bits of information concerning water levels and whether or not anyone heard when the power would be restored. We did get daily updates from town officials, but no substantial idea how long we would be in the dark.
Then, it happened. The light came on and neighbors started opening front doors and walking outside to check who else got power. We all did; except some were luckier in the heating department than others. I, for one, ran into a little bureaucratic situation, which there is no need to detail regarding powering up the furnace, but the delay was only one day and here I am feeling too warm for comfort.
I guess the good news is that Sandy forced us to clean out the basement. That we did as fast as we could. It helps when you have two grandchildren, ages 10 and 12 visiting. Now I don't know what to do with all the space.
In reflecting back on this week, I can't help but think how fortunate I am to have the neighbors who I have. Also, I am amazed how grateful I am for light. I said to my daughter, "The lights came on. ... Light is good." Indeed. I don't think I have realized how good light makes one feel. I realized I missed light more than heat, even more than my computer.
For with good light, I can read a good book and that is all the comfort I need.
Rita Papazian is a freelance writer who has covered Norwalk extensively.