We’d spent about two weeks planning a trip up North as we contemplate a move. When we first went up there was a minor problem with the furnace and the pilot light needed to be restarted. On our second visit the furnace was an issue again but the landlord was able to quickly resolve it after getting the oil to flow through without pulling in excess and causing a rumble whenever the furnace kicked in. This time around it was the toilet giving us issues. At first I did my best to use a plunger, and other googled suggestions, to clear out the problem but soon it was clear, we needed professional help. Monday seemed to be the day to service the new abode so we had people coming in and out all morning. I thought we’d leave at noon but the cranky, overtired cries of the twins told me we would be delayed another couple of hours. By the time they woke up, it was late afternoon and we were without power. It was the third time that weekend we lost electricity. We’d lost it twice during a thunder and lightning storm on Saturday and now, Monday afternoon, it was gone again. We decided it would be temporary so we would wait it out and leave the following morning. I think we were each looking forward to accessing a stable internet service after having been without for the three days prior to the power outage. By nine the following morning, there was still no electricity and we hadn’t had a phone with battery power for over twenty four hours. I prepared to do the bit of house work that needed doing before we left and I suggested a drive around town might give us some insight as to what was happening with the electricity.
So, what does a family of six, ranging in age from 22 months to thirteen years amongst the children and a decade or two older among the adults do when they have very limited access to electronics – and for the children, none at all? For the children and I it was a bit easier, I think, to keep ourselves active and busy. I’d bought an battery powered air hockey game and all four seemed to enjoy playing until the batteries died. Eight batteries, no plug-in and the batteries last about twenty minutes before the fan gets too hot and shuts itself off… which led to a rowdy fight and four players were placed in respective corners of the house to sit down, cool off and come out of the penalty box with a better attitude from the one they’d had as they entered their selected areas of time out in.
Once the kids were back together, it was time to start preparing dinner. The little ones can pass the vegetables to their older siblings for washing, peeling and chopping. While they’re busy with that, I can get on with browning meat and putting it in the oven to finish cooking. As we wait for everything to finish off, we gather on the sofa to read books. We have eight new stories we’ve never read and, even with discussions, an hour later all the books are read and we need to fill about another half hour before dinner. Washing hands and faces, setting the dinner table then bringing ice water and hot food to the table quickly eats up any spare time that could have been used teasing and bickering with one another. Once dinner is done, we have a rare dessert. Vanilla cake served with whipping cream and strawberries I’d diced up and sprinkled with a bit of sugar so the berries would produce syrup. Everyone loved the cool berries, creamy whip and cake… except the six year old. “If the strawberries had been whole, I could have eaten it but my stomach just couldn’t keep the little pieces down. Every time I swallowed, the chunks came knocking onto my tongue and they kept saying, “Hello!!” and I tried to get them to go down. They just couldn’t!” A reasonable explanation for a woman who hasn’t allowed her food to touch on my plate since I was a very small child and textures are also an issue for me too. After dessert…. Bath and bedtime. Everything was pretty wonderful until we lost power Monday.
Around seven pm we concluded the power wasn’t coming on again any time soon. A while back my sister had purchased a butane stove with the intention of using it outside when canning season began this year. For some reason, she picked it up as she left the house before we headed North. I guess it was one of those moments where a sixth sense kicks in and you just listen, rather than ignore it. And it’s a good thing she did because we used it Monday evening and Tuesday morning, once we ran out of hot water but still had dishes to do. Then we learned about the wild fire near Prince Albert and how there had been damage to equipment that knocked out the power… that was all the motivation we needed to head back to Prince Albert. As we left, we saw people lined up twenty deep to get into at least one store but for the most part, places had their blinds pulled and everything was dark inside. For the most part, people were visiting, using camping equipment and contained camp fires with grills and barbecues to cook and brew their first cup of morning coffee. It was really nice to see neighbours dropping in to check on others and bring a cup of coffee or breakfast, in some cases, to those who weren’t as prepared for an unexpected power outage. I was very happy we’d kept the gas tank close to full so we were able to return home without further inconveniences. And I must say it felt so good to wake up to a warm home when I learned the north work up to snow! So now I just hope the water pipes held during the dip in temperatures and there isn’t a flood waiting for us on our return in a week or two. Fortunately, the landlord will check and make sure things are okay as far as that goes. And as for the toilet, whatever was plugging it, it was quite deep down the pipes and the clog couldn’t be identified. I just translated this news as “the twins didn’t do it!” and that really made my day.
Since coming back to PA, I continue to see neighbours taking care of one another during the wildfire. And isolation has meant some gardeners already have some flowers planted but they are getting quite creative in their front yard and garden displays. It’s very inspiring and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the gardens and front yard displays progress over the course of the summer. As families isolate, inoculate, and evacuate please continue to be cautious and stay safe. Things can be replaced but you are irreplaceable. And sometimes, things just go awry and we are forced to slow down and re-evaluate what is most important. Let that be the safety of you and your family as we endeavor to adjust and get through another challenge affecting most of central and northern Saskatchewan this year.
Take care and have a safe week, everyone.