Life & Arts – Last week’s April snowstorm not only interrupted our slow push toward spring, it actually caused more damage and disruption than any winter storm we had this season. And it exposed the way we rural rubes have to deal with technology.
On Tuesday morning I was planning to work from home, and I started early. Very early. Like 4:30, because I was up anyway, and was kind of behind and worried about the weather. The snow was coming down hard, wet and heavy, and I could hear branches snapping and falling in the woods behind our house.
Then the power went out, came back on, went out again and came back on. That was fine, but the internet did not come back on and the phone stopped working. I started panicking around 6:30. I didn’t want to drive to Albany in a snowstorm, but I had some stuff I needed to send to work and, with no cell service here, there was no way of telling anyone anything.
I woke my husband and proposed a coffee date in Saratoga, just 25 miles away, so I could use some coffee-shop Wi-Fi. But as we were leaving the house, we wondered how our work-from-home neighbor was doing.
We drove over to check. She was freaking out, with no internet and no way of canceling her dozens of remote meetings, so we took her with us on a quest for the nearest Wi-Fi or cell service.
The first thing we encountered was a downed tree across our road blocking the way to town. We turned around and took the circuitous route, just a short 7-mile detour. But the library was closed — no power, no internet. In fact, the entire town seemed to be without power.
We headed to the beach across the street from the high school where several other rurals were parked, all trying to contact someone from the only place in town with the tiniest scrap of cell service. My friend and I texted our offices and hoped the texts made it through. Then my husband drove us to the library in the next town. No internet, no power, no cell service.
“Remember snow days?” my friend said. “Now if we cancel work for a snow day, we just have to work all night.”
So on to Saratoga after all, that urban mecca with power. My friend and I worked most of the day in the library, during which time our homes were mostly rural outposts, cut off from the world and operating in some distant past before the assumption that all people could be at work all the time, no matter what the circumstance.
My husband didn’t really notice if the power was on or off once he got home. He took care of the animals, maybe took a nap, and eventually started milking the goats. By the time he was done, the power had come back on.
I called him, and he came down to Saratoga to fetch us. And to get that cup of coffee I had promised him in the morning.
The next day the power was out again, the 8 inches of snow we had gotten was still on the ground and it may as well have been December instead of April.
But this week it will be spring again, the slow and steady push toward flowers and salad greens and tomatoes. The snow will melt and the lilacs will bloom. You can’t stop spring,
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on May 8. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or on Twitter @Hartley_Maggie. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are not necessarily those of the newspaper’s.
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