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It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

A wind turbine set against a stormy Oklahoma sky.

The Tiny Oak family (that would be my partner and our two boys) spent Saturday morning outdoors, enjoying time with friends and staying in the shade to beat the increasingly intense Oklahoma heat. Despite the busy morning, we were all up late, which is why we were able to get the warning, just around midnight, that we were in for straight-line winds with gusts up to 100 mph.

We made our way to our “hidey-hole”—a hallway in the center of the house–and located our emergency toolbox. It’s far from comprehensive—just a solar-rechargeable radio, an LED flashlight, a few small candles and some matches. It’s meant to keep us informed and get us from point A to point B in a pinch.

On the weather band of the radio, breathless reports were coming in fast of major wind gusts just a few miles from our home. The tornado sirens began to wail, adding a layer of surrealism to the event. As the reception on our radio began to fail, the boys were excited (as excited as teen boys can appear to be) to learn that they could keep it going by turning a crank, and so we were able to keep up with goings on as the storm blew into our neighborhood.

Long Night, Early Morning

We heard the wind pick up, and soon began hearing the telltale thuds that indicate a large branch—or maybe an entire tree—had fallen. The lights began to flicker, then died, then returned, and continued to play this game for far to long before we were finally plunged into darkness.

It was early Sunday morning when the storm passed, and far too dark for anything to be done. Relieved that the house appeared undamaged, we headed for bed. The next morning, a quick survey of the property revealed several large tree limbs down, and a tall pine snapped in half. We soon learned that most of the city had fared much worse, with trees tossed like toothpicks and power lines snapped. Electric service was out across the area, with no estimated return in sight.

We made coffee with an old mesh filter and a small decorate crock, and cooked Father’s Day brunch on the gas stove top. We spent the afternoon cleaning up branches in the yard. As evening arrived, it was apparent we wouldn’t be getting power back any time soon.

Aaron poses with a downed pine tree.

Modern Problems

We are running a gasoline-powered generator for a few hours a day, to keep our food cold, our fish tank aerated, and our devices charged. This is not an ideal solution, but we have too much tree cover for solar. And you know how I feel about my trees.

I have a WiFi hot spot thanks to my phone, and an ancient Chromebook that doesn’t ask for much power, so I’m not completely out of touch with the world. I can’t do much work in the dark, so most of my projects are on hold. I’d hoped to fire some copper clay today, but sheer survival got in the way. And by “survival” I mean attending to my day job, dashing out to fill up my car when I learned a nearby station had fuel, and other remarkable feats that would surely make my ancestors proud.

But we’ve spent the days together, with the boys riding their bikes, eating dinner together, and enjoying the slight break from day to day life.

All in all, I’m grateful.

Cover photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash

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