The World Turned Upside Down

By , January 22, 2012

Michelle and I sit in our cabin, more than a mile from the nearest road. Daytime highs have been below 14° for a week. A 60 knot storm (69 miles per hour) howls outside. Heavy seas send spray house-high against the rocks of our beach. Our wind generator, fully braked, starts up and furls in the 80 knot gusts. The weather forecast warns of a blizzard in the coming days.

What is our only concern through all this? We’re thinking about our little girl, away at college.

Aly is in the middle of the recent “heavy” snows that have all but shut down the string of cities along Interstate 5 through Washington and Oregon. Her college campus is set in the forest, away from the main urban center.

Her campus officially shut down for snow days on January 18th. No classes, probably no mail delivery, and the food courts are running so low on food that she and her roommate have stopped going down there for meals. Going outside means dodging heavy snow loads from the 10 story buildings and ice-laden tree branches falling on the trails.

On the evening of the 19th, the dorms lost power for a while. The students of Aly’s college are experiencing an urban emergency.

As one would expect from her upbringing, Aly’s doing fine. She and her roommate got up at 4:00 a.m. to gather snow to pack the perishables in their refrigerator. They still had hot water, so they could shower, but with no outside window, their bathroom was dark, so they worked on rigging headlamps to see by. They have at least a week’s worth of personal groceries in the room. And, as required by the college, they each have a “bug out” emergency kit at their disposal. Aly’s is equipped far better than the list the college provided.

Aly’s main complaint is that she can’t go to class.

The only reason she’s at any disadvantage throughout this little adventure is that her surroundings depend on just-in-time delivery of all essentials, particularly power and food. Her current environment depends and operates on the assumption that these will continually arrive in an uninterrupted stream.

Funny, isn’t it?

8 Responses to “The World Turned Upside Down”

  1. Holly says:

    Reading your blog is a great escape from my busy corner. I picture myself in your cozy little cabin with a raging storm outside….aaaahhhhh. Peace

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    That’s exactly what it’s like, Holly. Glad we can help you escape!

  3. Dave says:

    Mark, just came across your blog….looks like it will be really interesting to read! How do I get to your first blog entry so I can start from the beginning??

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Wow, Dave, you intend to be thorough! The first post would be this one from September 2009. It gets better after a bit! Hope you find it worthwhile–even I haven’t gone back and read them all lately!

  5. Susan says:

    Hi Mark and Michelle,

    I live about an hour south of Bellingham and the snow did shut us down. However, it is somewhat viewed as an adventure rather than a burden to most people. We lost power for 4 days and that wasn’t fun – but, snow tends to bring out the community in Western Washingtonians. While inconvenient, Aly probably having a bit of fun. She is attending a school full of Western Washington kids and snow is a really big treat! I know you are her parents – and will worry, but don’t please worry about the weather. Kids are resourceful and she is so far above the mean when it comes to adapting to adverse weather conditions.

    Take care!

  6. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks, Susan, I appreciate that. I apparently made us sound more worried than we actually are. We knew she’d come through it all right, as would her fellow students. My thesis was the irony of us living an “insecure” life here while the corridor faced problems because of the “secure” existence they enjoy. So many people ask us “how can you live like that?” and pity us for our precarious existence. Then a bit of snow falls, and their civilized world begins to shut down.

    As for the kids, at that age they’d be having a blast even if the world were coming to an end!

  7. Valerie says:

    I have just found your blog, and I enjoy reading it immensely. I live in South Carolina on a two acre homestead. LOL. That’s what I like to think. We are becoming more and more self-sufficient. My girl is at college, too, so I pray for safety for yours.

  8. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Valerie, I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. A two-acre homestead is just as valid as ours. In fact, probably more so, as the majority of ours is heavily forested. We’re probably gardening a much smaller area than you do you yours.

    I appreciate and reciprocate your concern and sympathy for a youngster at college. It’s hard to reconcile seeing them fulfill their future and wishing they could just stay home, isn’t it?

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