This week, a narrative…

Dagger-like icicles eventually covered the windows.
By hour 36 she said I was pacing like a ‘caged animal.’ I called it ‘vigilance.’
You see — the power had gone out here at the Ranch as it had for so many others in the North East.
Our electric company reported over 100,000 customers without service, a situation they remedied entirely within about 4 days. Most has electric service restored sooner. A day or two later, another 50,000 lost power in a second, smaller storm within this same service area and crews were back at it.
We were ‘dark’ for about 53 hours from the first of the two storms.
But not entirely…
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Over the past two decades in the Catskills, this photographer has taken steps to prepare for these sorts of inevitable inconveniences.
While friends an hour away in a rental with electric everything near Woodstock were heating cans of soup to lukewarm over Sterno cans, we were cooking in the kitchen on our gas stove. I chose gas when I bought the property because it could be lit with a match if the power went out.
As my neighbor ran a portable generator 24/7 to keep the hot air heat going in his home, via a connection installed a few years back, we were tossing the occasional log into the wood stove.
While some watched their cell phones wither and die and refrigerator temperatures rise, the missus and I were charging everything in site (including batteries for cameras and flash) and keeping things cool during and between the hours we ran our generator – which also powers the boiler, well pump and all the other essentials through a transfer switch we recently installed.
Elsewhere, friends with an automatic standby generator told me they didn’t even realize the power was out – as their unit switched on and kept power flowing seamlessly. Now that’s enviable, I must admit.
Our friends know the doors are always open here, and we’ll share and help any way we can; but in situations like these most folks whether they know it or now, remain vigilant and close to home. You want to know if a snow covered branch has fallen through the roof, and do what you can to protect and preserve property.
I talked with another neighbor who said her cell phone miraculously worked through the ordeal, though it usually fails at the drop of the hat.
She set a timer to go off hourly, so she’d remember or wake and remember to add wood to her fireplace. That’s vigilance!
Folks do what it takes to keep the pipes from freezing, the puppies from freezing and the food from spoiling if at all possible.

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Now, this time of year (early March) nature’s refrigerator is right outside the door – but that’s a hassle.
The last time the juice I’m writing about (not the orange kind) was out more than a few hours was in the summer of 2011 when the porch cooler wasn’t available. I had a wedding to photograph that Saturday outside of Albany NY, and I spent part of the week contemplating how to prepare my gear and myself the the rest executing those plans — all to arrive well-equipped and ready in body, soul.
(What a relief then service was restored the night before and it was almost business as usual.)
That neighbor with the hard working generator? During the heat of that summer, not needing it to keep the house warm, he had it in the back of a pick-up truck and was making the rounds between his place, our place and his brother’s to ensure all of us had enough power to stay on top of things.
That’s why I’ve become even more vigilant. You never know when the challenges will come.
My biggest concern this winter? Running out of gasoline – which never happened. It was available. Whew! We were fully stocked, with reserves, when the lights came on.
Next up? That wood shed is looking a little bare…

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