Expressing gratitude after Ivan

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 26, 2004

NOTE: Lifestyle has been updated to include those events canceled due to Ivan.

Neither Webster’s Thesaurus nor Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary offer enough words to express the gratitude that I – and this entire community – feel toward all those who brought us through the storm and returned us to our routine daily lives.

And may I never again complain of that routine!

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Waist deep into our deep freeze on Sunday, cleaning out the oozing rivulets of melting mint-chocolate ice cream, tossing out the soggy cartons of once-frozen TV-lunches and dinners, gingerly reaching for the still neatly packaged but undeniably thawed rolls of Venison sausage, I found the grace to remind myself of the genuine hardships other victims of Ivan were suffering.

That grace, I must in all truth add, all but disappeared when I reached the bottom of the freezer and the four inches of grayish water bobbing with unidentified bits and pieces of heaven knew what. After completing the clean-out, baking soda scrub-out the deep freeze hummed in pleasure and my attention turned to the refrigerator freezer.

Its contents were discarded without mercy, although I grieve at the loss of three half-gallons of Blue Bell,

and I closed it secure in the knowledge that before long its shelves will soon be filled again.

Not so with the actual refrigerator, which I had carefully stocked with fixings for sandwiches, salads, fruits and plenty of liquids. During our four days without power Russ and I had opened its door as few times as possible in order to retain some semblance of chill. Alas and yuck! Out it all went for the next garbage pick-up, and probably the next and maybe the next.

Surviving without electricity brought me several discoveries: I hate cold showers; there’s nothing romantic about candlelight – reading by glow of candles is difficult but the slowness of the process helps time go by; D batteries are an essential commodity as batteries burn out quickly when flashlights are used for reading.

I have also learned why our ancestors lived by the rule “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” They had no light when the sun went down so they went to bed and got up when the sun rose – as we did last week.

One bright spot:

the $10 battery-operated radio I purchased at a discount store kept me informed of what was going on in the world, once I became accustomed to the earphones. And special thanks to Frances Turner for helping me choose it.

Now, back to sunny days and moonlit nights, lights that turn on at the click of a switch, air-conditioners that cool every room, showers that stream with warm water, the clunk of ice cubes dropping into the receiving tray from the ice maker and the comforting hum of refrigerator and freezer. And let us not forget the blessed microwave that cooks quickly and cleanly for us.

I have learned that I have no desire to return to “the good old days.” Thanks to Alabama Power and the units assisting it, to Emergency Management Authority, to the fire departments (municipal and volunteer), to the police including those wonderful crossing guards who kept traffic flowing with all the traffic lights out, to the sheriff’s department, to Public Works and General Services, the Water Works who kept the pipes and taps open, and to all those neighbors who cared enough to reach out and help someone.

God bless them everyone!