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Snow Days and the Power of the Outage

Snow Days and the Power of the Outage

Snow days and the beauty afoot!Snow days on vashon island Every year I plan on being prepared for the torrent of Pacific winter storms that buffet coast, home and hearth with unapologetic bravado, but somehow between spring, summer, and autumn I fail to take action. Even this week when our local network anchors were practically convulsing over the opportunity to report on an approaching, and likely record-breaking snowstorm, I sipped java and read seed catalogs. Their proclamations of Seattle Snowmaggedon and Puget Snowpocalypse did not compel me to buy batteries, bring in more wood or stock provisions.  I knew this was a false alarm; they were crying wolf in a community all to aware of former forecast fiascoes. Historically, there’s a direct correlation: the bigger the hype, the smaller the impact (or so I thought).

Threes days later, two of them without power, showers, heat, internet, cooking or coffee, I became a believer.  (Of course, Boz and Gracie suffered little in their tartan wear and fireside nests.) Going forward, my new winter check list includes (along with no excuses) a generator, propane camp stove, long johns and ground coffee.

Boz loves snow days when the power is out

And while I may have been cold, tired of oatmeal and morphing into a look sported by Jack Nicholson in The Shining, my eyes were opened to the beauty of the world unplugged: the rarity of silence, the gift of stillness, the reflection of my own company (bulldogs notwithstanding), and the luxury of staying put.

No picking apples today.

Snow days in the madronna

Framed by Douglas Fir, madronas steal the show.

Outside temperature 30 degrees Fahrenheit, inside temperature 48 degrees, and folks say fireplaces don’t work.

snow day at Tall Clover FarmHome sweet home, with or without snow.

And finally (against my better judgment ), the face of cabin fever.


  1. I like the picture through the window. Could be on a Hallmark card. Even though I live in Canada (aka the Big White North), I have never experienced a power outage of that degree. But I have had my share of weather induced seclusion. And I love those days. You are right, so quiet and serene. Glad you survived.

  2. Oh, what a chuckle. If only we could play temperature swapsies.The family howled over the Boz and Gracie tartan look-thanks for the flashback link. Suffering serious snow/winter envy.

  3. If you purchase a generator, you will never need to worry again about being without power—-since we bought one 4 years ago, we haven’t needed it. I guess I should be grateful, but my $800 generator gathers dust……………

  4. Sue, I remember the time I had a dickens of a time putting a drywall ceiling up and a friend of mine said, “Don’t you know about drywall ceiling jacks.” Uh, no.

    Just yesterday, a friend said, “Tom, don’t you know if your house has natural gas, you can power a generator with that?” Uh, again, no I did not know that. So this week I’m eager to learn more about a contraption that doesn’t require gasoline, but can magically run my furnace, water heater, fridge and range when the power goes out. Bless you Sue, bless you. 😉

  5. I bought a generator after the ice storm of ’96 …and didn’t take it out of the box til the big wind storm of 2006′ when the power was out for 4 days. Besides running the fridge, you can run the microwave and make hot food!

  6. Tom,
    Did you notice that OUTAGE and OUTRAGE only differ by one letter?! This whole weather business gave me my own OUT word- WORNOUT. It’s odd but being without electricty, phone, the freezer warmer than my hands, and with trees and limbs falling all round just pumb wore me out. I didn’t sit around writing poetry and thinking beautiful thoughts!!! It was beautiful until things starting falling. You always have such a positive viewpoint and lovely photos.

  7. Just like Jacqui, I have a bit of snow envy, but not winter envy. I was joking with a friend last week that down here (Tucson) in the summer we go outside to cool off, and in the winter we go outside to warm up. But I’d rather stay by the computer and daydream looking at your great pictures.

  8. I agree that 48 is too cold! I’d be right beside that fire until the power came back on. No kidding. All the photos are great, but the window photo is stunning. 🙂


  9. Tom, when you said you had no ground coffee, does this mean that you had to chew on whole coffee beans ? I once had to suck on a tea bag in an extreme emergency.

    What did you eat during these days without power and slippery roads ?

    • Brooks, the kindness of neighbors got me through the week. Seems everyone around me has a gas stove. (I am now banging my head, and adding that to the wish list of appliances for the kitchen remodel in 2029. 😉

  10. Over here in Tacoma last week wash a total washout school wise! No students Monday (MLK Day), Tuesday (staff waiver day), Wednesday and Thursday and Friday (snow days). Luckily we lost power for two seconds (!) and live close to Metropolitan Market and the library (which was also closed) so we didn’t have to hike too far when we needed to buy food for the crows and resorted to finding a good read in our personal library. Taking Tess Dog for walks was hard work – she bounded along on her four sturdy Black Lab feet while I became a human snowplow tromping through nine inches of the white stuff. I see that you, Boz and Gracie had the good sense to stay inside – albeit a very cold inside!

  11. Tom – I was there right with you! After 3 days of cabin fever, I was looking like Jack Nicholson too! Thanks for the hilarious post….I was not laughing a few days ago!

  12. We were out of power for about 40 hours here too, with everything encased in ice. Lost a tree (just a small one, and I’m actually looking forward to replacing it), and lots of tree limbs. What a mess! Glad you made it through. We managed to warm a couple of rooms with our gas stovetop burners. We are debating generator versus wood stove now.

  13. OMG…I probably would have been unprepared as well…I’ve never seen so much over-reaction to weather as here in the PNW…one thunderclap=a thunderstorm, 1/10″ of rain=a downpour! The bad thing, unfortunately, is that we just get desensitized to it. I can’t remember a time recently that I’ve been without power for so long…but I remember as a kid, it used to happen fairly regularly (living in the rural midwest where severe weather was common…electric repair crews were few and far between). It always seemed like an adventure at the time (even if it was chilly). I’m not sure how I’d react these days, I’m so used to being “plugged in”. Glad you had a positive encounter with your “forced austerity” 🙂 I’m not sure you’d want to be anywhere near me, however, after a few days without coffee 😉

  14. I love the icicle ladder. A generator is a very wise investment. It will ensure your power won’t go at again for four years, only to go out the year you are snowed in without gasoline for the generator. That’s definitely worth $400.

  15. Jealous of your snow and roaring fire. It was in the low 60s today here in Newport News, Virginia. The plants don’t know whether or not to stay dormant in this fluctuating weather.

  16. I don’t know Dave, I checked out your blog and have to say if it’s any consolation, I’m jealous of the tomatoes you grew, the ones the size of small melons. Oh and we’re back to mid-40s, rain and high winds.

  17. Tom,
    I looked at your “cabin fever” photo again, and it really looks more like a “I raided the wine cellar” and lived to tell about it photo. There;s more than the usual blush to your cheeks. I’m coming over immediately to count bottles!!! I was convinced that my vintage was safe with you-oh the wolf in sheep’s clothing! Just kidding and impatiently awaiting your next blog.

  18. I was in Dallas enjoying the 77 degree weather when the 5″ snow hit the tree farm here in Oregon. Would love to have taken pics but I can just pull out the old snow pics and enjoy those!

    By the way, I agree with June – beautiful green eyes!

  19. I stumbled on your site while looking for photos of Vashon. We had an unforgetable two week visit on Vashon two years ago. Two weeks of absolute heaven.
    I envy you, living in the NW. We’re still looking at getting back there.
    May you live as long as you like, and love as long as you live.
    Blessed be.

  20. Ralph and Brenda,
    What a wonderfully generous comment and wish. I’m so glad you loved Vashon, no doubt Vashon loved having you. Here’s to your future visits! Not much has changed 😉


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