In 1972, Hurricane Agnes stalled over Pennsylvania and turned our normally verdant commonwealth into a bowl of squash soup. I was five years old at the time, and living with my parents and five siblings. I can still recall the deafening roar of the Cocolamus Creek outside my window, and the grave concern etched in my parents’ faces when local waterways crossed roads, essentially cutting us off from civilization.
I can’t remember how long we were stuck there, but it must have been over a week, the most enjoyable of my life. We passed evenings playing games in the warm glow of a kerosene lantern. There were no outside distractions, other than the rising creek. If it’s possible for an already close family to grow closer, we certainly did in April of 1972.
There is no question the cloudy spring water (with the occasional waterlogged worm) was a bastard, but we didn’t just eat; we ate like kings. See, when the going gets tough, my Mom makes Caroline Ingalls look like a sloth on Klonopin. Why make one custard pie when you can make fifty?
I inherited some of my mom’s grit. Look anywhere in my house, and you will see kerosene lanterns, coffee percolators, cast iron cookware, and even a couple of MREs. I’m all about survival in case the lights go out, because, well, I know it can—and probably will. Heck, the only reason I bought a gas stove/oven is so I can still cook during power outages.
It should come as no surprise, then, that when the lights went out this morning, I sprang into action. YES! Time to impress The Hubs with my pioneer skills. Only, I didn’t impress anyone. The wicks in the kerosene lanterns were too short and dried out. My flashlight batteries were dead. The Yankee candles had about five minutes’ burning left, because they’re damn expensive and haven’t been in the budget for two years. The coffee percolator was stuffed into the back corner of the tallest shelf in the kitchen.
Thank heaven, the Shag Candle worked. (I’ll let you figure that one out.) It’s one of those coiled beeswax jobbies that is supposed to last eighty hours. There’s no way. Three inches lasts exactly ten minutes. Unless you want to sit your arse in front of it for the entire power outage, at some not-so-distant point, darkness will return.
In summary, for all my primitive weaponry and preparations, my survivor skills are total crap. Either I’ve gotten lazy, or I’ve been lulled by relative reliability into a sense of security. In any event, there will not be a repeat of #18thcenturyfail. Starting tomorrow, I’m putting together an emergency kit. Maybe you should, too.
Or, do you already have one?