Dark, gray-blue clouds began forming Sunday afternoon just as predicted. They moved slowly across the sky, gathering power as they crept closer...their great mass enveloping the prairie. I have lived in Kansas all my life but have never become comfortable with the awesome force of a summer storm.
It was just the children and me as night time took over and the storm hit. We went to the basement when the wind rose, sweeping around us.....howling....taunting, and the hail began to pummel the rooftop. A flicker of light, then darkness. The illumination from the lightning lit up my daughter's room as we lay there waiting for the worst to subside: Megan in her own bed and Dylan and I with pillows on the floor. I prayed that our home would be spared and that my husband would be safe while he was out in the midst of it.
Usually the power is back on within a few hours, and though daybreak brought a beautiful, clear sky, the illumination of digital clocks was absent; the whirring of ceiling fans stilled. It's funny how loud electricity is and how accustomed we get to its commonplace noise. And even though we know there is no current, we still switch on powerless lights, open dark refrigerators and contemplate hot meals.
We were without power for two days and though its absence led to the frustration of soured milk and uncomfortable temperatures, it was also a time to catch up with one another. We are a close family and spend a great deal of time together under normal circumstances. But this down time allowed us the opportunity to connect on a different level: no television to distract, no teenage chats with friends over the internet, no dishwasher or washing machines swishing in the background. We went on walks, spent time outdoors, read, worked on puzzles, played "Clue", took silly photographs, drank too much Kool-aid, made shadows on the wall at night and laughed a whole lot.
And when the lights came back on this evening and the modern world of technology groaned and whirred its way to life again, we were grateful. But I noticed that the kids didn't immediately jump to the computer as I thought they would, nor did they switch on the T.V. or throw a bag of popcorn into the microwave. They sat with books....close on the arm of my chair, not quite ready to give up the 48-hour moment of quiet that drew us close, and held us still.