July 29, 2011

Loss of power

There's lightning over the Caribbean almost every night right now. I had never gotten a picture of lightning before so one night I went out and opened the shutter for about 30 seconds and behold: lightning, captured digitally. Lightning sure is pretty and all, but it's the thunder I really like. You see the lightning flash, and you can stand by the shore and picture the shockwave coming at you over the water until the thunder rolls up overland and echoes off the mountains. The good ones shake your bones and make everyone stop for a minute and look. I love it. Thunderstorms are premier entertainment.

They're no surprise right now. At the end of summer, the atmosphere gets all agitated and active. It's hurricane season, after all. I set my homepage to the National Hurricane Center and curiously look at the map everyday to see if there's anything interesting out there. Today, there is:

That red circle out there will probably become Emily, and Emily may or may not become a hurricane, and that hurricane may or may not visit us in Puerto Rico. As a midwestern boy, the prospect of experiencing a hurricane is exciting. But ask me again in a week.

Earlier last week, following an afternoon thunderstorm, I was in my apartment when the power went out. Not a surprise, not a big deal, it will come back. Get on with life. A little while later, I stepped out and saw that everyone was gathered around something. I had apparently missed some hubbub or something. Dave was sitting in the backhoe, in front of a snapped power pole, with wires draped over his roof, and over the top of The Big Van too. He'd hit the power pole, but we won't go there. He and the passengers of the van were stranded.

It was a holiday. I don't know why, but it was. So it took a long time to get the power company out to do anything. Eventually, the cops came out, and some other people too, but it was Pam and Jon who freed everyone from their electrical prison by rolling up in Dave's cart and letting them step out onto it.

They didn't get the power back right away. It was just our little camp that went on without it. Luckily, summer camp - especially a day camp like we were running - runs mostly outdoors, so during the day all you need is sunshine and a breeze and everyone's fine. Let me understate something immeasurably: sleeping at night in humid 80 degree weather without a fan is uncomfortable. I'd rather not need to do it. It is not the ideal sleeping situation.

I heard cheering when the power came back yesterday. Had my fridge had anything worth saving in it, it would have gone bad. But after four weeks of summer camp, it was like the Charlie Brown Christmas tree of fridges. Some old eggs. Condiments. A bunch of cheese slices. A pitcher of water. All very replaceable. I restocked it today. But then there's that whole potential-hurricane Emily thing on the way.

Let us hope Emily stays away, but let us be thankful she waited until camp was done.

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