A winter storm approaches as I write this. A storm that includes near constant freezing rain leading to 20 mm of ice accumulation. This morning, the winds picked up. As they wrapped around the house they made an eerie, high-pitched whistling noise that makes it sound colder outside than it actually is. Storm windows shake and draughts add a chill to the the house.
My husband has left with the children and the grandparents to grocery shop but we all joke that they’re picking up supplies should the storm shut down our normal routine and force us indoors. It seems absurd that we should find a looming ice storm comical, but I think that hints at our alarmist news stations and the difficulty in accurately predicting weather. “But I don't predict it. Nobody does, 'cause i-it's just wind. It's wind. It blows all over the place. What the f*! ” (Dave Spritz, played by Nicolas Cage in the 2005 film, The Weather Man).
These types of storms are no laughing matter if they hit. I recall the Quebec, New Brunswick and eastern Ontario ice storm of 1998. The photos of it are haunting as trees toppled onto homes and cars. People were stranded in their communities, afraid to leave their home because the weight of the ice made trees and structures unsteady, ready to snap at any moment. Downed electrical wires sparked and some homes were without power for weeks in the winter. It was declared a state of emergency and the Canadian Armed Forces were called in. In the end, a total of 35 fatalities happened as a result of the storm.
In remembrance of that natural disaster, writers have not just discussed the statistics but have been grateful for how the community came together during a time of crisis. Everyone helping where they could.
People remember the darkness and their reliance on candles after sundown. The lack of distraction from the television and the natural conversations the ensued. In a recent article, Julie Scott wrote about her experiences in Montreal during the ice storm when her family was without electricity and relied upon candles after sundown. The situation at the time was far from idyllic but was also a blessing in disguise as it forced family members to spend time with one another. From that experience, she writes about a practice she calls “Candle Hour”. Candle hour involves turning the lights and screens off about an hour before bed and relying upon candles as a light source. It embraces the notion of truly relaxing by reading a book or simply enjoying the flicker of a flame. No screens or beeping or wine. Just time to wind down and cut off the exposure of blue-spectrum light.
Abrupt events in our life have a lasting impact. For some, it inspires change and a learning opportunity. No matter what happens with the storm, I was sure to stock up on candles.