The other day our power went out. It was out for over 26 hours but felt like a lifetime. Of course this happened after it had gotten dark, so we had to scramble for flashlights and candles. Luckily my children are obsessed with playing with flashlights and we literally have ten, maybe more, of varying sizes. The next morning, despite the fact that the power had been off for more than 12 hours and I had become obsessed with having it restored, I continued to enter rooms and attempt to turn the light on. I would make a terrible lab rat because I just couldn't learn. Over and over again I would flip a switch, curse its inability to provide the desired outcome, turn it off and fumble around in the dark room (because my children were off playing with all the flashlights).
This power outage caused me to realize two things. First, I would not have lasted a day on Laura Ingalls's Little House on the Prairie. This was abundantly clear when I got tears in my eyes because I realized I couldn't make coffee. No matter how much Pa counseled me I would have been a miserable failure and the Ingalls family probably would have folded.
The second thing I discovered was the sheer panic I felt when I realized all the food in my refrigerator and freezer was going bad and would need to be thrown out. Thinking about the effort it would take to replace it all brought a second round of tears to my eyes.
The last time we had a power outage of this duration it was just me, my husband, and an infant. My husband ate what I ate so our food shopping was pretty simple and straightforward. Nowadays it resembles more of a sophisticated mission involving regular stops at at least three stores. I had reached a point where none of these stores had to be visited on the same day, or even the same weekend because I had a good supply of specialty items. Now with everything spoiling simultaneously it would take a lot of shopping to replenish everything.
When I was growing up we had more than one major grocery store nearby, but all the grocery stores carried more or less than same things. It wasn't like you had to go to Safeway for some items and QFC for others. They carried national brands, regional brands and store brands. That was it.
Nowadays I have a household of people who insist on a certain kind of ravioli only carried at Whole Foods and only when Whole Foods deems it something to keep in stock. Then I have other family members who must have only the Trader Joe's apple sauce squirters, cinnamon rolls, crackers, tortillas, frozen pizza, hummus, sour cream, egg substitute, five different kinds of cheese and so on. Then finally in order to get the national brand items such as yogurt drinks I must visit a good old-fashioned grocery store. I would mention the milk man who brings our milk and butter as well as the stuff we get at the Farmers Market, but that would just be piling on. When it comes down to it, a ridiculous amount of time is spent running around to all these establishments. Especially when you consider how seldom I cook, and the fact that my daughter only eats pasta. But we couldn't even make that after the great food spoilage of 2011 since the pasta must be tossed with butter and cheese.
I am not blaming my family for their very specific tastes. Okay, I am. But only if I am willing to blame myself as well since there are several items on those lists that are for me. After several hours of shopping we are safely restocked and can resume our normal lives and eating habits. Now that I think about it, maybe we would do okay on the prairie since clearly I can forage and gather with the best of them. Just make sure that Pa teaches me how to make coffee using a flashlight.