How soon we forget! A couple of days prior to Christmas, Toronto was hit by a major ice storm. The weight of the ice broke many power lines, as well as trees overhanging the power lines, resulting in a major power outage affecting 300,000 customers for several days. As we awoke to a cold, dark house, my heart sank as I realized how poorly prepared we were.
When we lived overseas I’d always had a back-up plan for water cuts, power cuts and even, heaven forbid, an evacuation plan, but settling back into a comfortable life in Canada, I’d oh-so-quickly let myself backslide.
All I had at my disposal was a bag of tea lights and flashlight with a fading battery. No alternate heat source, no means to cook or heat water, no “magic socket.” My heart sank.
After a joyless breakfast of peanut butter on crackers and a glass of water (no COFFEE!!!!!) we set about assessing our situation. What was quickly apparent was our increasing dependence on electrical appliances.
I picked up the phone – cordless – not working. Thank goodness we still had an old-fashioned corded phone in the bedroom. No wifi, but at least I had cellular data on my phone, as long as the battery lasted.
We had a fridge full of food, but no means to cook it. On the bright side, with sub-zero temperatures we were able to stash the contents of the freezer in plastic storage bins in the garden shed.
By 4pm in the afternoon the indoor temperature was 13C and falling as fast as my spirits. Sitting in our overcoats as dusk approached we contemplated a dinner of cold canned food and sleeping fully dressed under our duvets. But help was close at hand. An angel, disguised as my friend, Shila, phoned to check on us. On learning our plight, all she said was “Come.” A delicious dinner, warm bed and hot shower never felt more luxurious.
Late the following day our power was back and life quickly returned to normal. But a month later I’m left with a nagging concern that repatriation has turned me “soft.” Where has that pioneering expat independence gone? I need to toughen up and, quite literally, get my house in order. Storms lanterns and a primus stove are on my shopping list. And of course maintaining my friendship with my Christmas angel