Powerless in Vancouver

Imagine my surprise upon returning from a trip to Seattle last week only to find all of my fish dead. I had grown rather fond of my little guys (and girls). Two of mine had even recently given birth. Now they were dead, all of them. Apparently they met a chilly demise in the throws of our recent winter storms. Of course I mourned, as I live alone it is always difficult to lose one’s roommates.

Shortly thereafter, I did what most people did as I faced the onset of that first evening. I panicked. No TV, no radio, no computer and no music. Just a few dim tea lights and some crossword puzzles. My desperate and stark misery was only compounded by the bridge closures (I am imprisoned in North Vancouver).

Let’s not even get started on the traffic either, which was more akin to a death match at every intersection than striving to reach a destination. I could go into a mall or restaurant for some heat and food, but then again I could always stick my leg in a piranha tank too.

It wasn’t until half way through the night that I felt an overwhelming sense of shame, as I am an outdoor guide; I should be in my element without the creature comforts. So why did I, like so many others, succumb to such anxiety?

The answer is rather simple. I was born here. It’s not that these types of things never happen in our fair city.

It’s just that they happen infrequently enough for us to forget them and,

As far as the weather is concerned, we Vancouverites have short-term memories. Every year we see the same things happen, but every year we treat them as if Godzilla had just ravaged our streets in an epic battle with some moth demon of the underworld.

Power outages rarely last very long in Vancouver and are easy to overcome. They can even be gasp! Fun?!

Of course things like candles are a good option but candles are a fire hazard, and if your phone is out of commission (cordless anyone?) you are going to have a difficult time calling 911.

I suggest, instead, the use of a hand crank radio and/or flashlight during outages. They put off a less than average amount of light, but they are safe and they are self-sufficient. Some of these devices even have a weather channel built in them so you can listen to the carnage while you weep during the passing of the time for your favourite TV show. Another great option is a L.E.D. headlamp. The light is excellent, they are hands free and the batteries last up to 40 hours.

A lot of people keep canned foods for such emergencies, but if your stove or oven doesn’t work, your cream of asparagus soup will taste less than gourmet. Do yourself a favor and get food that tastes good cold. Make the food you buy for emergencies fun too, especially if you have kids. Whenever you are cold and uncomfortable food can often be your only solace and entertainment as food tastes a lot better when your body is miserably frigid.

Do yourself a favor keep these items in an accessible area. Prepare ahead of time. Imagine my frustration as I rummaged through drawers and cupboards in the dark, the tears clouding my eyes as I looked for my lighter and flashlight batteries so I might simply find the net to scoop my fish out of the tank.

Take the time and get outside! What a perfect opportunity to watch the waves at a seawall, go skiing, snow shoeing or just spend some time with your dog. If you have fish, relish the time you have with them, too.

Really, look at this as an opportunity to get to know yourself better, or reacquaint yourself with friends or family. This is how life was for thousands of years; even in the dark you are still fortunate. Sit back, take a deep breath, let it out and get in touch with life again, without all the electronic distractions. You never know, it may even be good for you. Use the time to decompress and be creative!

As for me, now that I have power once again, it is time to repopulate my aquarium of death.

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely, but no power absolutely sucks."
- Some kid in a Walmart

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