Blackout!

I looked out over the valley last night and found a sea of darkness. The last of days of summer had been pounding us with heat and humidity and this evening was no exception. Though the night had brought cooler weather, it remained still and breezeless. 


I am shaken from my zoned out state by the stifled giggles of children running past me. It is 8:45 p.m. on a school night and close to twenty neighborhood children are playing Cops and Robbers on our street. In the background, I hear chatter and laughter from the adults, with 90's pop music and the Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints game from someone's car radio.


It is a blackout, an event that I spent many years enduring as a child in the Philippines, but as a resident of South Orange County, CA, this event is unheard of.


The power went out at about 3:30 p.m., when I was still at work. With most of my duties performed on a computer, it brought our entire office to a standstill. Upon checking my cell phone, I noticed that it read, "No Service". The cell relay sites must have gone down too, I was told. I was able to leave a few minutes earlier to stop by and drop off mail at the post office. No luck -- by the time I had arrived there at 4:30, the doors were shut and locked. 


I headed to the supermarket with the intention of purchasing some ice to keep in our ice chest and in the freezer to save my precious steaks and ice cream {a balanced diet, I know}, holding my breath that it may not even be open. Surprisingly, they were open for business, and even more shockingly, they were still able to run on minimal power and accept debit and credit cards. Though I had cash on me, I could hear my husband's voice in my head {"Keep the cash. Use the debit card, since you can. We may need the cash later and not be able to get some"}. Sweet, I thought. It wasn't long until I was greeted by disappointment when I found an almost empty ice case. The lady in front of me had grabbed the last block of ice. Not letting that get in the way of my goal, I grabbed five large bags of the only other alternative: flavored ice. I figured it would do the job of saving my steaks, and if anything, they'd make for great cocktails that I counted on having later on that evening. No matter what, I wanted to get home, and quick, as I was sure that everyone was going to treat this situation as a disastrous catastrophe, and that equated to ridiculous traffic. 


I got home and ensured that my movements were slow -- with the heat, humidity, and no electricity to run our air conditioning, I was not about to tire myself out. It wasn't long until our neighbors started gathering on my driveway... and suddenly people were bringing lawn chairs, blankets to sit on our front lawn, candles, and flashlights. 



As dark became more imminent, children huddled in small and large groups, plotting the rules of whatever game they happened to be playing at the moment. 

 At about 9:00 p.m., screams of jubilation resounded through our cul-de-sac, as phone calls to parents came in from the local school district's automated message service, announcing that school had been cancelled the next day.



Women gathered in groups on patios, sharing stories and gossip.


Several parents brought out whatever popsicles, ice cream sandwiches, and other cold items from their freezers and handed them out to the eager neighborhood children {and even some other adults!}. At one point, someone even brought out a fire pit and put it in the street directly in front of our driveway.


In any other given time or place, it may have been easy to complain, squirm in discomfort, or find blame in whoever or whatever it may have been that caused us all to come out of the comfort of our homes, but luckily, such was not the case on the night of the big West Coast Power Outage. It seemed to me that everyone was actually thankful for it.


For a few hours, summer seemed to have found its way back to our street. Illuminated only by flashlights, candles, and glowsticks, everyone was able to have an encore of a hurrah for summer.

6 comments:

Ruby Agustin said...

You know, of course, that in the Philippines this Blackout is called Brownout. Funny, you say, but it's really not funny when you're in the middle of the heat and discomfort of the situation. The sticky, humid nature of the tropics lend more misery to it all.

Anyway, even with your power outage last night, I almost wished I was there. You guys had quite a different brand of "fun and neighborliness!" That street of yours is something else!!

Patricia said...

I miss the days when my kids were young all of the neighors hanging out together! Enjoy all of this while you can. Visiting you via FNF weekend blog hop. Following you on GFC. Stop by and visit.

Patricia aka Mamaw

mmbear said...

Sounds like alot of fun and be grateful you have friends who want to associate with you. We have neighbors that are not friendly and don't invite us to any neigborhood bbq's or dinners or whatever because we have not been here as long as they have. So, we are outcasts but we are also indpendent and we actually sometimes enjoy not being bothered. I have been following thru GFC and noticed today that I had not on Facebook so I corrected that. You may be following me on both so all I can ask if you could double check and let me know. Thanks so much for your help and have a great weekend.

Mary@http://www.mmbearcupoftea.com

Life With Captain Fussybuckets said...

wow! That's crazy!!!

I'm following you via the finding friends blog hop! Your blog is cute!! Come visit when you get the chance!

www.captainfussybuckets.com

my oh my ellie said...

New follower! Follow back @ www.ellienoelle.blogspot.com

Victoria's Voice said...

Making the most of a bad situation. Looks like you all had a little fun after all.

I apologize for I am running a little behind in showing my appreciation, but I wanted to stop by and thank you for participating in the Get Wired Blog Hop. I am following you.

I hope you have an excellent day!

Vickie
http://victoriasvoice44.blogspot.com

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