Monday, February 15, 2010

The Kindness of Friends and Neighbors

February here in Southeast Pennsylvania has seen much more than it's usual share of snow this year. Now, I'm from Erie, in the opposite corner of the state. Up there, this is just typical winter stuff. I saw more than one white Easter growing up. But there, they deal with it a lot better. Roads get cleared faster and even when they haven't been yet - people know how to drive on them. And here's the kicker - snow doesn't generally cause power failures back home. Doesn't matter how heavy the snow, it just doesn't happen (or it didn't when I still lived there). The only winter power outage I can recall was because of a storm that coated the city in over an inch of solid ice.

But here, snow can cause power outages and we were hit by a doozie last week. Not the first storm - the one that buried us under about 2 feet of the white stuff, but its little sister that hit a few days later. This one only dropped about a foot, but it was wetter, heavier stuff that just stuck to the trees and power lines. Two of the pine trees in the yard behind mine got a good dose and lost most of their branches, right on the power lines running down the middle of the block. (Actually, I think that's why snow outages don't happen in Erie - they keep the lines well above/away from trees.) The kids and I did the best we could to be productive and entertain ourselves without electricity, but about four hours later, we were starting to get pretty cold.

Luckily for us, our good friends across the street still had power and were happy to take us in. We had figured out by this point that we probably wouldn't have electricity back by that night, so I took the kids over and came back to get our overnight things, grab perishables to stash in their refrigerator and put the other freezer/perishable items in a cooler in the back yard, which was certainly cold enough to keep them from spoiling. I then went back and we cozied in for the night. P & R went above and beyond. Not only were they keeping us warm, they reminded me to charge my cell & laptop, fed us a delicious and hearty soup for dinner (perfect for a snowy day) and offered me a beer as soon as I walked in the door. Now THAT'S what I call hospitality.

Of course, the kids thought this was all great fun. Oh, wait...I haven't mentioned DH, have I? Well, that's because the stinker was lucky enough to be out of town for work. And Denver had less snow than we did. Hello? Twilight Zone, anyone?

Anyway, our "sleepover" was a big hit with N & A. The next day, I tried to do my part to help out by participating in kid-wrangling and bringing over our Wii. And an update from PECO let us know were were likely to be without power until the next day...AAAAAAAARRRGGHH! And DH was due to return late that night. P&R had only a single bed in their guest room, so we were a bit stymied. Thankfully, another family of friends had offered us refuge as well, so we checked in with them to see if they were really up for an invasion. And wouldn't you know it? They offered to put us up for the night, and yes, their guest room had a double bed.

So, the whole lot of us (including P, R & their son, M - who are also friends with the I family) headed over for a pizza dinner, kid chaos and some grown-up conversation. Again I say, incredible hospitality. These folks were invaded by twice the numbers and did it with grace. After the kids were all snuggled in for bed, I stayed up to wait for DH and then went to bed myself.

Of course, in addition to all of this, I had put in two marathon shoveling sessions. So you would think that I'd sleep like a rock, right? Of course not! I never sleep as well out of my own bed, but add the worries of the situation and I tossed and turned both nights.

The next morning, DH is ready to go out and buy a generator. I don't mind the idea, but wished he had been around two days earlier with it. Because as happy as I was to have such good friends take care of us, I hated having to impose on them. Because as much as the kids thought they were on an adventure, their excitement was starting to make them a little frayed around the edges. Because when it comes right down to it, I love my comfy house with my family and my critters and life just the way it should be.

Turns out, we got power back just when he was in the car to go to Home Depot. How's that for irony? So, off he headed to work and I gave the house about an hour to get warmed up before packing up our stuff and my kids and coming back home. I've been largely hibernating ever since. After a couple of days of forced exile, I just don't want to leave.

But I'm ever so grateful to know that we have such good, loving friends that I can turn to if we ever need to again. And I hope they know that we would be happy to return the favor.

Thanks - P, R, M, B, K, K & C - you guys are the best!

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