By Chad Davidson
The burner and the blackout crave you: pilot
of heat, purveyor of the innocent
candle and cigarette, light we tamed
then fed to the night. Cupped, inviolate,
a winter moth, a prayer we never sent
away, you live in seconds what we name
a life, a sudden cleansing. You Prometheus
come as toothpick, the false fire lent
to our fingertips, lightbulb of the lame
idea: may your phosphorus forgive us,
Our power came back on around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, huzzah! This after a night during which my kids slept on the couch and floor in the living room because it was so hot upstairs; we'd considered sleeping in the basement, but there's so much stuff down there right now waiting to go out to VVA, National Children's Center, etc. that we can't even open the sleep sofa. One of the downstairs lights came on when the power returned and got us up but apparently the kids slept through it. It took several more hours for the house to cool off, but really, I am not complaining, considering that my parents' power was out for 12 hours longer than ours, I have friends who still don't have power, and there are several county public schools and parks that will be closed indefinitely for repairs. (One of the local storm deaths was from a tree falling at Claude Moore Farm, which we had visited the weekend before.) Hopefully the temperature won't reach the weekend highs in the 90s.
We had gone out Sunday after dropping Daniel off to work on his summer project on the Montgomery County farm tour; we'd seen lots of animals at Blue Ribbon Alpacas and had just arrived at Star Gazing Farm in Boyds when the sky turned dark and it started to rain. We went back to the car, and it poured buckets for about 15 minutes, with leaves and small branches raining down as well. When we tried to leave after the downpour, a tree had blocked the dirt road out of the farm and had to be moved by four farm volunteers before cars could get in or out. The farm's tents had blown over and the animals taken inside. Meanwhile, the county text message alert system had sent a tornado warning for Silver Spring and told everyone county-wide to seek shelter.
Many of the traffic lights were out as we approached Germantown, and when we stopped at Baskin Robbins, the entire shopping center's power was out. So were the anchor stores at Lakeforest Mall. Trader Joe's had power but they were out of Mediterranean hummus, which ended up being a good thing since we'd have ended up throwing most of it out. We picked up older son and came home, only to discover a tree blocking the main entrance to our development. When we turned up the nearest street, a tree was blocking that, too. We finally got in the back way, seeing branches scattered all over the roads and sidewalks. My parents had no power either and invited us out to dinner -- we ended up at American City Diner in DC, since the District wasn't hit as hard as our county. When we got home, we took a walk around the neighborhood and the kids and their friend tried to help move the trees in the road, though eventually the police were called since it had gotten too dark and the trees were too big.
We got a lot of mosquito bites, but at least the temperature had dropped 15 degrees, the only reason we could sleep in a house with no air conditioning. On Monday, after determining what was open and what was not in Rockville, we went to Panera seeking lunch (since we didn't dare open the refrigerator, still hoping we'd be able to salvage the contents) plus air conditioning and free wi-fi -- Panera has lots of places to plug in, but their wireless is hopelessly slow. Even so, we ate our sandwiches and cookies very slowly just to stay indoors. We stopped at Target in search of additional lanterns but they were completely out. I showered by candlelight and for dinner we ate the veggie bacon we had bought the day before at Trader Joe's and put in a cooler, very glad we had a gas stove that could be lit manually. Since we had all gotten tired of Yahtzee and Uno, we went back out after dinner, this time to Washingtonian, where we tried Dick's Sporting Goods for a lantern and listened to the jazz band playing at the bandstand by the lake.
Tuesday was spent mostly doing damage control and chores that had to be postponed for two days: laundry, Bagel City for fresh food, picking up Adam's violin from the shop where the bow was being rehaired, stopping at Home Depot to get the kids noise-canceling earmuffs, more laundry, emptying the entire refrigerator and some of the freezer, scrubbing the fridge cleaner than it's been since Hurricane Isabel caused a similar purge, more laundry, running the dishwasher to clean all the emptied bottles and containers, trying to put away the sleeping bag that a cat had claimed for her own, more laundry, finally a proper shower with the discovery that shaving one's legs with 30 mosquito bites is a real pain, Warehouse 13's terrible episode in which we find out all girls no matter how smart want to be supermodels and have boyfriends, and more laundry, none of which is folded yet. But it's clean!
Earlier in the day, Star Gazing Farm volunteers attempted to move branches off their access drive...
Lakeforest Mall was open an hour or so after the storm, but none of the restaurants or big stores had power and many of the smaller ones were closed as well.
We had dinner at this downtown diner. Note the relative lack of tree branches, leaves, and debris on the road.
When we got home from dinner, the tree blocking the entrance to our neighborhood had been sawed into pieces but the glass from the car it hit when it fell was still on the road.
My family and friends tried to move the trees off the road leading to the other entrance, but ultimately had to leave it to the pros.
Some of our neighbors, fed up with being in a house that was too hot even with windows open, slept here.
Not everyone was fazed by the power being out. Bunnies, bats, a fox, and many squirrels made appearances during our many walks through the neighborhood to see the cleanup.