Apocalyptic Surrealism: Or, baking cookies in the cold

How easy we have it when our furnaces work, and we’re not constantly subject to mere survival from the elements. Certainly, there are times we’re reminded of our own vulnerability, such as from monster storms like Hurricane Sandy, or tornadoes and flood.

And then there are the small times, like when it’s going down to -20C (-4 F), the roads are horrifically bad, and the furnace inexplicably stops working. That’s what happened to me last week, and as luck would have it, my husband was away, so he couldn’t even diagnose what was wrong with the stupid thing.

I keep talking about it, but here it is: my beloved Round Oak Chieftan cook-stove, I think ca. 1920s

Fortune, however, did smile on us that I knew we weren’t going to freeze to death, and in fact, I could prevent the heat from dropping in the house. My dad brought over electric heaters, and most importantly, we have a wood-burning fireplace, and my beloved, big ol’ wood cook-stove. Thus, though I was of course perturbed, I found the day oddly relaxing in a surreal sort of way: I certainly hadn’t expected to have to run back and forth between the two fires to keep them roaring away. Nor had I expected to have to dig firewood out of the snow and haul that in. All in all, especially with icy, dangerous roads outside (some highways were closed), it shaped up to be a terrible day.

And yet, it wasn’t.

I got to bake cookies for the first time with the kidlet (she loved adding the ingredients and smashing the cookie balls down with her hand). I remembered why sometimes wood-smoke is described as sweet-smelling. My house remained toasty and warm, and I even cooked my dinner on the wood-stove (it was hot after all – why bother with the electric range?). And I considered what it would mean, what life would be like, if the furnace never came back on, if there was no electricity.

My answer: in some ways, not so bad.

Of course, I still had electricity. And I know that although the stupid furnace isn’t fixed yet, it will be soon. Most of all, perhaps, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I could still manage my home, and take care of my family when things weren’t so easy, even if it was a tiny taste of the apocalypse.

So, have you experienced a recent taste of the apocalypse? What aspects of life do you think might not be so terrible?


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