If you live in an area beset by snow and ice at the moment, best wishes getting through this attack of the cold.
Last week, on Wednesday, my power went out for about ten hours. About noon, the electricity went off, and all through the evening I watched the thermostat sink lower, degree by degree. Additionally, the roads outside were iced over, and as we live at the top of a very steep hill, this made any attempt to leave the house quite risky. Of course, many other people in Tennessee had it much worse–we know people who went days without lightbulbs and heat. During the storm, trees fell on power lines and knocked out whole communities.
For us, even before the power came back on, we were able to have pizza delivered, and it is hard to feel apocalyptic with warm pizza in hand.
I live in East Tennessee. We are one of those parts of the American South, scorned by all the Midwestern states, where, whenever one inch of snow falls, the schools close, supermarkets empty of food, and people start writing goodbye messages on Facebook. And on the one hand, this is simply because of the hills. When one’s journey to the nearest major road involves going up and down three 25 degree inclines, it doesn’t take much ice to make the journey dangerous. While lots of people here drive trucks–Ford has certainly sold a lot of F-150s–these don’t seem to be the kind of truck that can drive uphill on ice.
On the other hand, however, I do wonder about the inherent precariousness of this way of life. I am just blogging here: I have no facts. It may well be my London heritage speaking, my assumption that “normal” human life takes place within a large city.
But the part of Knoxville where I currently live seems predicated on the idea, firstly, that one lives far away enough from everything to feel secluded, but close enough that you aren’t actually fending (even remotely) for one’s self. The whole premise of “West” Knoxville is that you can drive ten + miles to work, to collect children from school, to get a hair cut. There are a vast number of cul-de-sacs burrowed into these hills which, when you drive down them, seem on the one hand remote, even quasi-country-ish, but which are actually only a short drive to the new pizza franchise that just opened on Kingston Pike. It’s all absolutely dependent on cars: there are no buses this far from downtown; the distances are too far to walk. So when the road is cut off, or the power goes out, there’s nothing outside one’s own house, reachable by any non-car means, that can be of assistance.
West Knoxville is like a city-without-a-city, and it seems to be thriving. In terms of restaurants and shops opening, this appears the most secure part of greater Knoxville / Farragut, and it’s where the majority of the well off inhabitants seem to wish to live. Still, I keep wondering what would happen if the price of petrol / gas rose dramatically. How would this area continue to function?
Anyway. Post your winter survival techniques in the comments, and best wishes for the remaining snow and ice.