Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grat-ahhhhh-tude by Angie Ledbetter

Zzzzzeet, whirrrrr, beep, beep, beep, click! Those are some of the best sounds in the world. Can you guess what made the noise? Give up? Okay, that is the sound of wonderful electricity once again surging through a hot dark house after six long days. Mere words cannot explain the gratitude and thankfulness (are they the same things?) that whizzed through my mind and body when we got power back after Hurricane Gustav.

Mixed in with the elation I felt knowing the A/C was already doing its magic to cool me off, I also felt a small twinge of loss. I immediately asked myself, "Are you completely crazy? What's not to like about lights and computer and blow dryers and washer/dryers and all the other wonderful things we are used to flipping on with a finger to a switch?"

With extra people staying with us to ride out the scary storm, it had been crowded and sometimes inconvenient, but there had also been a shared camaraderie among us all huddled together around lanterns. The kids were forced by nature, then downed trees, then a city-wide curfew which is still in effect to be home with the family. We gathered with neighbors to pool groceries which turned into delicious meals from the BBQ pit and propane burner. There were no streetlights or city brightness to block out the beauty of the sky one night. For lack of anything else to do, we had to have actual conversations, hang around on the porch or in the front yard sitting in the driveway, and read books during daylight hours. Now that everyone's gone home, I miss them and the shared routines.

Don't get me wrong, I was totally grateful for electricity when it came to cleaning up the house afterward, but the feeling of being a pioneer with an unknown future ahead was exciting. All the old boring routines were replaced by something different. It felt good to be able to help others, to be prepared for any- and everything. Everyone was kind and helpful...pulling together to get yards cleaned and trees cut, sharing ice with those who didn't have any, and other neighborly things you don't get to enjoy often. And I actually prefer coffee made in my old aluminum camp pot.

School's supposed to start up next Monday again, and I have mixed feelings. I know the kids are ready to get back to the books, but I'll miss seeing them as much as I have the last week and a half. We have so much to be thankful for that we take as a given and assume will never end. Disaster reminds us of those things.

Mostly I'm grateful for the people who are camping out here in Baton Rouge from almost 20 states. The tree trimmers and electrical linemen, the roofers and emergency service personnel, the Tennessee National Guardsmen and women who arrived home from a tour in Iraq only to drive through the night to get here and help hand out emergency supplies. Ah, it's a great feeling to know there are those far and near who, in the worst of times, give their best.

Now...I think I'll go run my garbage disposal, just because I can! ;) What would be the first appliance or thing you turned back on?


Anonymous said...

The comforting "whoosh" of a propane burner starting to brew the pot of coffee the old way. I never realized how noisy the TV really was. Quiet evenings after curfew just easing int o the night. Honestly, not a bad way to do things. We may need to rethink our dependence on things, after cooler weather comes to visit.

Kathryn Magendie said...

When I lived in BR during Hurricane Andrew, and we lost electricity for 2 weeks TWO WEEKS! (laugh) I remember how we neighbors got together more, how we connected, how we vowed to do this once the 'lectricity was restored-but you know what happened - soon as it was, we all went back inside to ac and tv and whatever.

Here on the mountain, if the electricity goes out, there aren't many neighbors to sit on porches, but, and we don't have many outside lights (in fact we hate it when someone blares lights at night) but I do miss my coffee - I want a battery operated coffee maker, that's what I want!

Barbara Quinn said...

I liked the way you said.."Ah, it's a great feeling to know there are those far and near who, in the worst of times, give their best." What a fine observation. And I'm glad the power is back!

Joanne said...

It sounds as though that hurricane delivered many gifts, of people and time and simplicity. Beautiful gifts.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Oren, I concur. Mandatory months of "camping out?"

Kat, get you a camp pot. They're cheap and work great on gas stoves or BBQ pits!

I'm glad too, Barb. And, yeah, people's best (contrary to what the national news shows) is truly something to see.

Joanne, you're right!

Ami said...

I used to love when we'd lose electricity because it meant candle light and card games. Family time forced, but completely enjoyed!

I'm so glad that you've come through the storm well. It does always seem that in the worst of times, people share the best of themselves, doesn't it?

Patresa Hartman said...

great post! what an adventure. you know, i don't think it's crazy at all, to have on some level enjoyed your time living as a pioneer. making the best of a situation, of course. how cool is that?

am very glad you're safe and that you were still able to find some joy in all the disaster. welcome back, ms. angie.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

You make some excellent points - we never appreciate what we have (fully) until it's taken from us. Must say, the computer would be my most missed electrical device.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Ami, you're right. If you look for the good, it'll show itself to you, even in bad conditions.

P: Thanks! it's good to be back.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Carrie, I did sneak into my office a few times and tap on the keyboard, just to feel good. LOL

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