Our Night on the Set of The Walking Dead

Er. Just kidding. Sort of.

As you may have heard, a powerful storm system (winds, lightening, more winds) blew through our area Friday evening, ensnaring large trees and power lines, uprooting trees and patio furniture small and large, and creating undesirable tree “bridges” across major and minor roadways, not to mention all the tree debris that blanketed the roads. (In case you hadn’t figured it out, the trees around here took a pretty sound beating).

And thanks to the 95-plus temperatures (F) we’ve had, this will likely be referred to for all posterity as the “horrible summer storm of 2012” that left millions without power in the sweltering heat. The kind of event that each will remember where s/he was and what s/he was doing when the storm hit, and what came of the days that followed.

Here’s our version.

Alex and I were at a movie when the storm blew in. We thought it was just a bit of bad luck when the projector in our theater went out. And being in a windowless, dark theater, you have no idea what is going on outside, so of course we were surprised when the theater manager announced over the PA system that there were “hurricane-force winds” outside and they would be issuing refunds for our movie since the “heat has made the power lines flicker and they lost power.” So clearly were the goings-on articulated by this fellow, Alex and I were convinced that they were just making excuses for their shoddy theater equipment. We bought a box of off-brand Sour Patch Kids candy, claimed our refund tickets and shuffled toward the exit, listening to others’ speculations about what would have happened next in the movie, were we not so abruptly interrupted.

And then we went outside.

It was like heat lightening on steroids. Our city was illuminated with piercing lightening fractals that snaked across the sky in too-fast-to-count patterns that might even give the kid on Touch a numerical challenge. Not to mention the wind. Somehow, luckily, we felt secure on the road; the trickiest part was navigating the tree branches, trunks, and other debris, migrating towards the pavement like magnets in startling, forceful gusts.

Most of the way home, only one lane was clear, due to the fallen trees. We were about 2 minutes from our house, following a line of about five cars when suddenly there was only one car in front of us. Yes, in the blink of an eye, a tree had fallen across the road, separating us from our caravan. If a tree falls in the middle of wind storm, but no one sees it, does it make a sound? What’s that? I couldn’t hear your answer over the wind outside… We marveled at our luck, and navigated ourselves back down the hill. We had heard  from a well-meaning driver that there was a power line down at the top of the hill anyway, so even if we had made it, we may have been deterred by that, which would have been just as frustrating.

Thankful that the tree hadn’t fallen on us, Alex and I regrouped to try an alternate route home. Unfortunately this route appeared to be blocked as well. We waited in our car in an open field (away from trees) to see if the cars began moving again. They did, so we filed in, only to turn around again 5 minutes later when it was determined a tree had just smashed 2 cars in the very same line (reports said no one was hurt).

There was one more route to our house that we could try (without driving back into town through the turmoil we had just survived), but not a quarter mile in, a resident was blocking the road with his pickup truck to inform people who tried to drive that route there was a tree down blocking the entire road just a ways ahead.

Puzzled and antsy (because Nero was home alone and had been since dinnertime; by this time it was 11:00pm), we parked in an empty park-and-ride lot about 2 miles from our house. Other cars began to gather there as well, chatting as neighborly as possible about what to do, which roads were closed, how many trees and power lines were down, etc. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Alex was convinced that the Incredible Hulk someone would have teamed up with fellow drivers to clear the trees from the road on the hill to our house, so we watched other cars try to pass. When we saw the same cars come back the other way several minutes later, we knew there was only one option left if we wanted to sleep in our bed that night.

We abandoned the car, turned on the flashlight app on our cell phones and recruited other stranded folks from our neighborhood to walk home together. It was like a scene from LOST, complete with the loner who doesn’t say anything and walks at a distance that is too far from the group to be socially considered a part of the group, two beer-bellied men with projecting voices who apparently voted themselves the leaders of our pack, a girly-girl wearing a short dress and heels who reported her every move to her father on her iPhone, a mini-van mom who attempted to bring a cheesecake with her on this trek (??), and an Asian family that only talked to each other. Am I mixing up my TV shows now?

Two miles, three gigantic trees, and one droopy power line later, we arrived in our neighborhood and said our thanks and farewells to neighbors we’d never seen before and likely wouldn’t recognize in the daylight– we were united only briefly in our survival adventure together and, having survived, continued on our mind-your-own-business suburban lives. We lit candles that I had conveniently not yet put away from a spring cleaning project, and snuggled with our puppy like there was no tomorrow.

I suppose I’m being fairly lighthearted about a not-really-funny-at-all situation. Or perhaps there is healing that comes from those moments of community that arise from shared struggle (or inconvenience?), or even healing in being able to find the humor even in less-than-ideal circumstances. In all honesty, we are truly blessed and incredibly thankful that we weathered the storm (zing!) just fine. Our power was restored the following afternoon (leaving to rest the dilemma of what to do with a chest freezer full of beef), and we went on about our lives. The heat hasn’t let up, and there are thousands less fortunate than us; our hearts and sympathies are with them.

Perhaps my proudest moment of self-sufficiency came during the whole ordeal. Lacking power Saturday morning, I took my cast iron skillet outside to our gas grill and set up a little impromptu, al fresco kitchen. I opened the fridge, snagged the last two eggs, and closed that sucker as fast as I could. I plucked my first zucchini from the garden, chopped it up, and sauteed it in my hot skillet. Topped with two fried eggs, and we enjoyed my proudest yet most humbling meal to date. It was delicious. (If only the eggs had come from my own as-of-yet imaginary chickens…) And I thought about how quickly we rely on modern conveniences in this world. Don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits, dare I say, necessities to functioning in today’s society with the electric amenities we have come to know and love. But maybe, just maybe, there still exists at the heart of those who grow their own food and in those who do it themselves an art. A survival art embedded in our DNA generations ago that has been inadvertently (though logically) suppressed among modern conveniences.


So while I wouldn’t necessarily say I enjoyed this stormy weekend adventure, I definitely learned something, and I definitely appreciated the simple things–things which are really not so simple at all, but in fact take a lot of work and love to nurture and maintain. Suffice it to say, I am still interested in growing our own food.

How now, what news? Were you impacted by the storm? Have you had similar power outage-induced “moments of clarity?” Do tell.


2 thoughts on “Our Night on the Set of The Walking Dead

  1. Suzanna says:

    I’m a new reader of your blog (via Dream Green DIY) and also a local Lynchburg-er. We have recently bought a house and that Friday night was our first night staying there. I was extremely thankful that our dogs were with us, that’s for sure! It is wonderful that you were 1) so close to your house by the time you couldn’t drive further, 2) that you could walk home to your puppy, and 3) that your power got restored so quickly!

    Loving the blog, by the way! You’ve got a new fan!

    • Jessalyn says:

      Thanks, Suzanna! Hope you didn’t sustain much damage during that storm – what a welcome weekend, huh? We are definitely thankful to have been restored our creature comforts so quickly. Thanks also for your new readership!

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