The Ice Storm

Ice Storm 2008-Photo 2 (Hickoff) The wild turkeys could wait. The phrase “widespread power outages” has dominated news talk on my battery-operated radio. The storm made us native and transplanted New Englanders national news last weekend and well into this one. It ended today, Tuesday, December 16. Unless you count the clean-up to follow: ancient trees split in half, heavy branches all over the landscape, wet basements and the like.

I can hear a neighbor and his trusty chainsaw right now . . .

Yeah, I've stoked the woodstove fire continuously (it got down to 10 degrees one night over the weekend), but the weather eased considerably yesterday (December 15, the last day of the New Hampshire bow turkey season, and I'll eat that tag with some good memories on file). My English setters enjoyed my company during the recent stretch (I think!?), sleeping downstairs with me near the fire while my wife and daughter stayed on the warmer upper level at night.

Hunting camp without the hunting . . .

Just like the outset of Jack London’s classic 1910 story “To Build a Fire,” today also broke cold and gray. Would the power come back on? Or not? That’s been the operative of late: to build a fire. It could be 3 p.m. or 3 a.m. as the great heating unit, like a newborn infant, must be fed. Like you Strut Zoners, I choose skinny logs to provide air around them, and thicker ones to sustain the burn longer into the night, offering more rest for my vigil of warming the house. Sixty degrees is as low as it got while I fed the fire.

Once I stopped, it dropped like a stone in a lake.

But then it warmed to unseasonable temperatures again as if nature were giving us just one more break. And then I heard that sucking sound, and my home office printer purred like a turkey hen and kicked on. Here in southern Maine, the power in our modest little log cabin fired up this afternoon after five days without it. Yep, you heard right: five days. No typo. The moment of truth arrived to the sweet sounds of two sump pumps sucking swamp water out of my basement. You gotta love it.

Ice Storm 2008 (Hickoff) Before the electricity kicked in, some of my mallard decoys floated around in the several inches of water down there as if in some winter outdoor-industry show demonstration. As clean-up goes, I've a museum of old (wet) basement gear and classic (read retired) camouflage that needs tossed, so that's a good thing! And no I didn't have a generator on hand. It's on my Christmas list though.

Back on the grid never felt better.—Steve Hickoff