Storm Diary

I’m catching my breath after last week’s ordeal. Here’s my tappings, gentle tappings, on my keyboard.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I am sitting in the dark on a Sunday evening with no power, no
television, no air conditioning, NO INTERNET, and no refrigeration for
white wine or rosé. I can’t tweet my sweaty status or update my
Facebook page. Somewhere in the darkness, my dog is noisily licking his
paws – electricity or no, he must keep his toilet. My 10- year old
daughter is camped on the family room floor, making an adventure of
necessity with a flashlight and a magazine. My wife has given up and
gone to bed.
The fierce storms that ripped through the DC area this afternoon left
hundreds of thousands without electricity, killed at least two people,
and damaged homes and cars throughout the region. Without warning, we
were plunged back in time forty years to an era without electricity,
when we opened windows despite the heat and humidity. It is small
comfort now that the temperature has fallen into the nineties. I can
hear the generator from the office building a block away thrumming over
the sing song of summer cicadas and the wail of sirens responding to
distant emergencies. The neighbor’s dogs are barking at Armegeddon.
In times like these, I am grateful for my family and friends, and
content to drink water.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day Two. Or Night Two, rather, without power. Crews are presumably still
working hard to restore the grid, but from what I was able to see today
as I drove to and from work, they have a heroic job ahead of them.
Aside from the obvious carnage – a house up the street clobbered by a
split oak tree, my mother-in-law’s car pierced by a fallen branch –
there is the not so obvious damage: trees broken but not quite fallen,
their heavy branches weighing down power lines that could easily ignite
when the juice is restored.
I’m still very thankful that our only real cost will be some ruined food
in the freezer. But much of it was in the freezer because we didn’t
really want to eat it anyway. Now, however, I’m beginning to chafe for
the wine on the basement that is gradually getting warmer. The weather
is too hot for red wines, and we can’t chill the whites or rosés. I’m
grateful that this is the weightiest of my worries.

Tuesday, July 27

Still no power at our house, though some people in our neighborhood
have had theirs restored. We ate this evening at my mother-in-law’s
house in Wheaton. She never lost power, but it was only late today that a
crew from Philadelphia came by to lift her sagging power cable off her
car and from over the street. Her bumper has a nasty hole in it, the
fender is popped off, the trunk dented and scratched, but the car is
still driveable. The offending branches are now sawed into neat chunks,
their twigs and leaves scattered across the lawn and driveway. A block
away, two streets are without power. One of them is blocked by a massive
oak tree that fell across the street; police tape keeps the curious
away from the downed power lines until the crews arrive.

As we ate sausages and pizza that Lily had rescued from our freezer, I
kept hearing Ma’s air conditioning cycling on and off, but I didn’t feel
any relief from it.
“She has it set at 80 degrees,” my wife explained. That’s the same
temperature as our powerless house, though at least the fans move the
air around a bit. Still, it makes it easier for me to decline Ma’s offer
to stay over tonight.
Eating here, at least we were able to enjoy some cold wine. (This is a
wine blog, after all.) Macon, good summer chardonnay. But I can’t
motivate myself to write much about about it. In the grand scheme of
things, it’s just wine after all.

We came home as darkness fell, with just enough time to run through the
house looking for where we left our flashlights this morning. There’s
still hot water for our showers. But I can’t get used to this. I
reflexively pull the string on the light in my closet and flick the
switch whenever I enter the bathroom or go down to the basement to look
at the wine as it slowly cooks.

The basement is still the coolest
part of the house, but barely. I pulled out a bottle of Carneros Pinot
noir, an unsolicited sample, to sip as I write this. It is candied and
rich, not my favorite style, but I can see why people might like it. It
has sweet strawberry jam flavors and goes well with mint toothpaste.
Part of me really wants to check Twitter to see if there is any more
ruckus about local wine in locavore restaurants. But the rest of me just
wants to go to bed.

Wednesday, July 28

Dinner
out was a treat, as I was able to brag on my “hardship” about being
without power. But it really is getting tiring. Driving home tonight and
arriving to a dark neighborhood was depresssing. But crews were setting
out traffic cones to block off two lanes of Route 29 as I came up, so
there is hope.

3:34 am, Thursday, July 29

Lily and I sat up bolt upright as the power came back on. Suddenly we
heard our own air conditioner rather than someone else’s generator. We
rushed throughout the house closing windows and turning off lights. Then
we went back to bed and pulled the covers up, confident that life was
returning to normal.

Note to self: Chill some Champagne.

This entry was posted in Wine and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Storm Diary

  1. Jeff Siegel says:

    You raise one of the great metaphysical weather questions of our time.
    What’s worse? Having the power go out when it’s winter or summer?

  2. Allen Clark says:

    Dave:
    Any idea what temperature your bottles peaked at? When you gain the
    courage to open one, I’d suggest as worst-case sample a bottle of a
    delicate pinot noir with some age on it. This is generally my
    experience as the most sensitive to heat. Also, oddly, any
    run-of-the-mill zin. Heartier-style zins usually age and hold up well to
    heat, but your average Dry Creek brambly-spiced, medium-weight zin
    relies on fruit alone for beauty and can fade pretty quickly. Hope it
    all turns out OK. And welcome back to civilization!

  3. I did not keep a thermometer in the basement, but the room remained the
    coolest in the house throughout. And of course, the recessed lights in
    the ceiling werent warming it up. I am pretty confident, based on my
    tastings over the weekend, that the wines fared OK.

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