Monday, July 07, 2014

Off the Grid

It's my favorite time of year: our extended stay off-the-grid in New Hampshire. We're here for eleven days this time, our longest stint ever, and so far it's been the usual mix of complete bliss and vexing, unpredictable difficulties.

We arrived very late Wednesday night, and had a perfectly lovely time for most of Thursday: pulling out the toys from the barn, filling the wading pool, visiting the frogs. But right before the girls' bedtime, a huge storm blew in--deafening thunder, terrifying lightning. At one point, all the lights in the kitchen blazed on, and I saw smoke by one of them; then--nothing. No power. A power outage seems to be a given each time we come up here. Still, we never seem to remember to get batteries for the flashlights or stock up on candles. Andrew found one small working flashlight, and we tried not to be too worried about the fully stocked fridge. We decided to just go to sleep.

Around midnight, we were woken up by the fan in our room whirring as though possessed by a demon--power. We went downstairs. Nothing else was working, but we thought maybe the lightbulbs had burned out. Andrew tried to change one, and blew out three bulbs before he understood something was amiss. He called the power company, who advised him to turn off the main breaker and wait for technicians to arrive.

They came first thing and found a downed wire, the wire meant to "return" unneeded voltage. Our house had been getting an insane amount of power. As a result--as we learned once the line was fixed and the power was back on--our microwave was fried, and the girls' white-noise machines, and our fridge. Sigh. Our cousin brought us his dorm fridge, and for the past few days we've been making do with that plus a cooler of ice.

Refrigeration difficulties aside, it's been restful and fun. Highlights so far:
---the girls making "soup" with the play kitchen, filling pots with fern fronds ("noodles"), berries, clover flowers.
---feeding fish from the dock
---spotting frogs
---Greta walking in mud in her bare feet and doing a little dance with each step
---Lucia's sheer delight at spotting a deer from her window--twice!--at bedtime
---a butterfly sitting on Lucia's finger, letting her carry it all the way up to the house
---the girls playing a new game called Deer, which involves running around the yard and stopping at various points to "eat grass"; Greta walked around on all fours sometimes, and Lucia ate her lunch in slow motion because deer are "gentle"

And, of course, we went to a little town nearby for the 4th of July parade and festivities, a pure specimen of small-town fun. The girls loved collecting candy thrown at them by the parade marchers; seeing cows in the parade; and getting little plastic jugs of chocolate milk from a local dairy. Afterward, we went to a tented area and watched cowpie bingo taking place, and had lunch. A completely fun day.

We have many days ahead. Lots to look forward to. Oh, and in the interest of full disclosure, we are no longer actually off the grid. We've had cell service for a couple of years now, and Andrew and I finally decided to get internet service this summer to facilitate these longer stays. The plus side: Andrew's ability to work from NH means we can come up more often, and for longer. The negative side: a lightning storm that knocks out our power may be punishment for technologically marring this sacred space.

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