Powering Down

Blankets are shared and campfire conviviality fills the room. Winter campout is on – indoors!

November 21, 2011 | | Back Issues | Community | Departments | Headwaters Nest | In Every Issue | Winter 2011

Sometimes you know it’s coming. The wind whips through the trees. The house creaks in a way that sparks an eerie premonition. Suddenly you know that somewhere, perhaps down the road, perhaps on the other side of the county, a branch will finally give in to gravity, the weight of it enough to knock out a hydro line. And that is when your little world powers down.

If you have lived in the hills for awhile, you get to know the signs that lead to power outages. There is a particular way the trees crack and groan, and a certain pattern to the way the wind drives and swirls the snow that herald what’s ahead.

If you are prepared, you will have candles in drawers in every room. You will have matches there too, so you can do your work quickly as you go from room to room. There will be flashlights parked near doorways or tucked into jacket pockets for just such occasions.

You’ll always have water in a pot on the stove and, if you are really sensitive to nature’s warning, you might even put on the kettle for a pot of tea and give the kids something to eat before the power goes out.

Your children will bemoan the loss of their favourite TV shows. Sigh. Sad faces all around. But, wait! They still have their phones and hand-held games. Those will add a low glow to the room, but only for so long. Eventually batteries die. Sigh. Sad faces again.

Now, pushing the logs into the woodstove or fireplace becomes the focus. With no power to pump the well, perhaps your family will bring in snow to melt if the outage is prolonged or you have thirsty animals to care for. Everyone takes their turn. Blankets are shared and campfire conviviality fills the room. Winter campout is on – indoors!

Headwaters Nest, The Winter Storm. Illustration by Shelagh Armstrong

Headwaters Nest, The Winter Storm. Illustration by Shelagh Armstrong

Books are read. Snacks and warm drinks replace regular meals at the table. Everyone sleeps together in the warmest room in the house. Little ones, scared and tired, turn their frightened faces toward their parents for comfort. Even kids “too old” to be afraid sneak in a cuddle. Everyone listens for signs of the storm subsiding. Ears are attuned to the alternating harmonies of low whistling winds and staccato rattling panes, waiting for the barely audible finale of falling snow.

An empowering sense of survival takes over while you wait. “Remember the storm last year – it lasted for days,” your kids claim, proud of their contributions. “Remember how we made toast with the silly giant fork in the fireplace? Remember we missed school for a whole week?” Hyperbole and tall tales fill their memories.

And then it happens. Slicing through the serenity, the radio, TV and fridge come simultaneously to life. The clocks throughout the house beep to remind you there is a schedule to keep. The lights are on and it’s time get moving.

“Awww!” your kids will say. Sigh. Sad faces.


Kids In The Hills

Cherished families and friends – 2011 has just flown by, hasn’t it?
Pregnancies have been announced, babies born, growth charts marked and little ones have turned into big ones. Kids In The Hills is just over a year and a half old now. “Long days and short years,” as the saying goes. We’ve had some great contributions and wonderful support from local parents and businesses, and we’re always looking for more. Have a story idea? An event? Be sure to contact me at [email protected]. See you in 2012! —Bethany

Fun Family Events In The Hills

  • Man in Motion Parents and grandparents will easily remember the Rick Hansen Man in Motion tour that took place 25 (short!) years ago. Paralyzed from the waist down, Rick was determined to raise awareness and funds for spinal cord injuries by wheeling through34 countries in 26 months. He completed his now-famous Man In Motion World Tour and raised $26 million. The Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay, currently making its way across Canada, arrives in Orangeville Dec 6. The free celebration starts at 6pm beside the town hall. Feature performances by Sweet Adelines, Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers and Chanda’s School of Dance are followed by the official Rick Hansen Relay segment, which includes the arrival of the Rick Hansen Medal at 6:30pm. www.rickhansen.com
  • Go Fish! Follow the blue dots on Island Lake and you will find a very popular winter activity, just steps away from the beaten path: ice fishing! When the temperatures drop below freezing, ice fishing becomes the most popular activity at Island Lake Conservation Area, just east of Orangeville. Generally, the season begins after January 1, when seven inches of ice has formed on the lake. Minnows are for sale, and tackle, augering and, yes, the iconic blue huts can be rented, so you don’t need to bring your own. Reservations are recommended for weekends and holidays. For more information, visit www.creditvalleyca.ca
  • I Love You! Celebrate Valentine’s with your sweeties at a Family Fun Night in Caledon on February 9. It features crafts, activities,dancing and bedtime stories, as well as face painting for small fee. Come dressed in seasonal red or pink. 5–7pm at the Caledon Parent-Child Centre in Bolton. (Lots of other fun events for families are listed on the CPCC website too.) www.cp-cc.org
  • Let’s Get Busy! On March 14, Richard Scarry’s Busytown rolls into the Rose Theatre in Brampton. One of our faves, these stories have been enjoyed by families for over 50 years. Follow the adventures of Huckle Cat, Sally Cat, Goldbug, Lowly Worm and others, with songs and audience participation. For show times and tickets see rosetheatre.ca.

About the Author More by Bethany Lee

Bethany Lee is a freelance writer who lives in Mono.

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