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Edging Eighty: Heavy snow, power outages and survival in the North Country


It is the morning of December 4, 2023 in The Great North Woods of New Hampshire – it is snowing hard – there is a foot-and-a-half of white stuff on the ground – and the power just went out. Time to get to work.

The Jotul  wood stove in the basement had already been spewing heat before the power outage. The heat comes up the stairs to the first and second floors, but that won’t be enough.

Out comes the small, portable propane heater that runs off one-pound bottles of gas. It is light – easy to use – and warms the kitchen perfectly.

No word from Eversource as to when power will return, so the outdoor wood pile beckons. But first comes some shoveling of the front stairs, the snow-bound car, the bulkhead and a partial (more on the in a minute) path to the woodpile.

At close-to-eighty years old and six weeks after major surgery, this isn’t easy. Thus a “partial” path to the cut-and-split wood has to suffice. Than it was wading through hip-deep snow and returning to the bulkhead with five longs under one arm and a walking stick in the other.

Keeping the fridge-and-freezer doors closed a much as possible has become a habit over the years, and there is not much more to do than wait for the return of power. Power outages are common in the North Country. Poles taken down by drivers trying to avoid deer and moose happens quite often, and snow-laden trees take out power lines in winter.

Life in the North Country can be difficult, but self-sufficiency prevails. Speaking for the older folks, the mental and physical demands may be hard – but they have value for stimulating our brains and physiques – and even promoting basic survival in a world that is proving a difficult one to navigate.

Update: Five hours later, the power is back. All is well!


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