What I learned during 30 hours without power in the Nordics

I wake up in the Nordics, inland off the coast of Ostrobothnia, I wake to the snow gently falling on the trees. I was so excited to be able to see the first snowfall. I went to the spa appointment I had made for my manicure and facial, then planned to visit the store because there was nothing at the cottage to eat. Once I emerged from my appointment, feeling fresh and glowy as ever a girl can, I realized that the gently falling snow had turned into huge soft flakes and many centimetres of snow on the ground. Still beautiful and peaceful. I was excited about the prospect of building a snowman and drinking hot cocoa by the fire. I had been informed by my driver that the snow would continue to fall throughout the evening and into the next day. And it did. The snow fell and fell until it was up to the calves of my legs. And then, at after 5 in the evening on Friday night, it happened. I heard a *dink, dink, dink sound and Whabam! Lights out.

They flickered on and off a few times and I was starting to curse the cottage in which I’m staying. It wasn’t until friends arrived and informed me that the entire village was pitch black. So much so that even their bus drove past the stop.

Dinner that night was cheese wraps and apples. We played on our cell phones and other tech, assuming naively that the power would return ‘any minute now’. Of course, there were candles everywhere, which we lit just so we could see in the ever increasing darkness of the North. Thankfully, the cottage was stocked with candles and extra fuses.

That night, it was kind of an adventure in ‘roughing it’. A ‘welcome’ to the territory, if you will. Challenging, but almost fun in a forced romanticism kind of way where yea, its dark…but you aren’t actually worried about anything. I could’ve used one of these to spin the warm beer in the snow to chill and drink that evening.

7 in the morning Saturday. Woke up to a big bang and…light! For all of 5 minutes. Had I known then what I know now, I would have used that 5 minutes to charge my cell, make coffee, boil water and microwave food. Instead, what do I do? Shiver, roll over and close my eyes. Stupid, stupid, girl.

I dragged myself out of bed about an hour later, complaining about the cold and wondering at the lack of electricity…still. Little did I know that more than 30 000 others were enjoying the same situation as I.

Saturday went at a snails pace. Can you say hello frustration and irritability? That didn’t last long before we all realized that nothing would be accomplished by snapping at one another. Thankfully. With no coffee (that I was aware of…I found out later that an angel DID in fact use that 5 minutes to make something hot and left it in a thermos for all to enjoy), no technology, no lights, no hot water, no edible food, and cold as _____ outside , there wasn’t exactly a plethora of options to distract from the current predicament. So, we all went outside and grabbed shovels to shovel our way out of the cottage and onto the road. Afterwards, things got inventive. There was one place in which to make a fire, but not exactly a fireplace. More like an ancient bread oven. So a fire we made, and in front of it I sat until I thought I was going to melt. When the flames died out, the theory was that maybe if we put a pot of water inside the fire bake oven, that it would boil…or explode. It did neither. But it did get hot enough to make a batch of hot tea. Once it was noted how that little experiment went, on came the next one. Hot food. Seriously, is it even possible? With this being our only opportunity to even pretend to make hot food that day, there was no other option than to give it a go. Since I’d visited the market that day, there was at least a hundred euros worth of frozen goodies slowly going bad. I thought that I could bag it up and set it outside in the snow to keep it cold, but was informed that it would only attract the animals. So we grabbed the biggest (fingers crossed its pyrex) dish we could find, dumped 2 bags of frozen vegs, some olive oil and a ton of cheese in it, put the lid on, popped it in the fire oven and hoped for the best. This time, hearing an explosion was a most certainty. But…it didn’t happen. And let me tell you, hunger REALLY is the best spice. I ate like a ravenous dog and did not once care how I looked to anyone else. I am certain my cohorts felt the same.

After a quick call to the power company, I realized that it would be at least another 24 hours before they even hoped it might be fixed. Saturday evening went slow, as it gets dark so early in the North. Reading by candlelight was impossible, but someone magically whipped out games and we were able to manage it near-blind. That night, we all slept like a litter of puppies. It wasn’t intentional, but funny how things work out that way. No problem though because it was that cold inside that I’m sure we were all quite grateful for the extra body heat.

Sunday morning. My phone had been off for the most part because I was terrified that there would be an emergency and nobody would have the battery power to call out after a few days of this. I checked the news and realized that because of the…well, blizzard basically, the count of households without electricity had increased from 30 000 to almost 70 000 over night! In a country with a total populace of 5,5 million; 70 000 is an enormous number. OK, ‘we wait’ I said to myself. Although I was mad as a hornet when I woke up this morning because I’m already getting sick, the temp has dropped significantly, and the food…well, the food is going straight to the bin.

Bread breakfast. Enough, I’m calling the power company. I almost felt bad because the customer service rep was just as nice as she could be, but I had to insist that something be done somehow and an estimate given. Sure enough, within a couple of hours there were men working on every power line on the main road (as far as I could see). And then, magic happened. *Dink *dink….POWER!

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It’s now Sunday, and the lights have just returned. I’m sick, it’s freezing in here and at least 200 euros worth of food has perished. But we can see! The radiator will warm, and the water will heat so hopefully the pipes wont burst. I can cook! I can boil water! I can SHOWER!! I’ve never been so happy to see this light on a strip outlet as I was today…ever! 😀

I have to tell you that although not having power in a snowstorm for 30 hours really is just a minor setback in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t been so happy to see lights…ever, I don’t think. It’s amazing the things we take for granted. One thing that helps enables us to cook, clean, stay warm, see, work…and without it we can do none of those things. They don’t call it a necessity for the fun of it. This morning, I would’ve traded all the shoes in my closet for it. And now I have it. YEAH! Brings that must-have desire for all things gourmet and luxurious down a notch when you realize that its just not as enjoyable in the cold and dark.

Thanks for reading!

-mliae

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. mliae says:

    Ok, I lied. Plunged back into the darkness now again. But at least some valuable lessons have been learned. The place is warmer and the food is cooler.

    Like

  2. calmkate says:

    I used to live in the Himalayas where the power was actually turned off in our village for at least 5 days once the first snow fell. So living in a small concrete box room with zero power. As foreigners we were not able to access timber to light a fire or gas to cook by … but could risk life and limb climbing down to another village to recharge my phone! Next winter I was better prepared with a solar lamp that recharged my phone but we do take power for granted.

    Like

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