One reason -- the main reason, really -- I haven't posted anything since last Saturday is that I, like many people in the Northeast, suffered an "infrastructure crash" due to the crazy October snowstorm which hit last Saturday. I can't remember ever seeing snow, and CERTAINLY not the volume that we received, at Hallowe'en.
This is a photo I took as I was driving home on Route 91 as the storm started to intensify…
… and by the time I got home about twenty minutes later, this was what our driveway looked like.
It began in mid-afternoon, and piled up quickly -- I think where we live there was an accumulation of about eight inches, though other areas got more (or less).
And then things started breaking.
So much heavy, wet snow, coming so quickly, was too much for a lot of trees, most of which had not yet fully shed their foliage. Without the leaves to catch the falling snow and build up unsustainable weight on their branches, a lot of the trees probably would not have gotten as damaged as they were.
(I took a few shots of the damage -- but these are a TINY fraction of the actual number of trees that were mangled by this storm. I was tempted to stop and get out of my truck to take shots of even more dramatic downed trees, with their torn-off branches and splintered wood and loops of downed cables, but it felt a little ghoulish. Suffice it to say, it was hard to travel down any street or road in this are without running into scenes like this.)
Sorry this next one is so blurry, but I am including it because this is right in downtown Northampton, in front of the courthouse. Those green lumps you can see behind the black metal fence are all branches which came down from that huge old tree on the courthouse lawn.
It was pretty surreal, seeing bright fall foliage-colored leaves -- and a lot of green leaves, which had not yet turned their autumnal hues -- peeking out from lumps of bright white snow. But appreciation for the unusual visuals quickly turned to dismay as thousands of branches -- and in some cases whole trees -- started bending or snapping or getting uprooted, very often falling on power lines, cable lines, and phone lines.
Our generator -- which we'd installed almost twenty years ago when we built our house, after going through power outages every year since we'd moved to this town -- kicked on as it is designed to do, providing us electric power, so we had lights and heat.
I say "us", but in actual fact it was just me -- Jeannine was missing all the fun, being out in California visiting with our daughter Emily. No snowstorms out there, but she had to deal with it when she got home on Monday. I drove down to Bradley International Airport in Connecticut to pick her up, and it was a little eerie to see all the lights -- including all of the traffic lights -- out around the airport. And cell phone coverage was spotty, so we weren't able to do our usual thing of exchanging text messages to coordinate the pick-up.
There were literally millions of people in New England who were without power, some getting it back within a couple of days, others still waiting. We joined the "no power" brigade when -- for reasons I am not sure of -- our generator stopped running yesterday morning at 4AM. Fortunately, I was able to get it going again later in the afternoon, and then main power was restored a few hours later. What a relief!
As bad as it was, it could have been a lot worse -- at least it was relatively early in the year and temperatures were not, generally, below freezing. In fact, most days during this crisis (at least in this area) it was in the mid-forties, so freezing pipes (one MAJOR hassle of power outages in this area) or simply freezing to death were not as big a worry as they otherwise might have been.)
It is sobering to see, once again, the relative vulnerability of as infrastructure which we take for granted and use every day without thinking much about it. Maybe my father has the right idea, one he brings up to me every time something like this happens -- bury all the exposed power lines and such instead of having them strung up high, just waiting for to be smashed down by overhanging limbs weakened by a storm. It would be be an enormous undertaking, involving lots of planning and digging and so forth… but if it could keep millions of people from suffering the effects of losing such a vital resource, even if temporarily, it would be worth it. -- PL