Sunday, October 5, 2008

Storms and Power Outages

The power went out on our street last night. One minute we were sitting in front of a National Geo. video (some guy following a group of hyenas around with a very large camera, thinking that the hyenas actually considered him one of the tribe; we were all rather skeptical), and the next we were sitting in the pitch black darkness (is there any other kind?). It was DARK. I jumped up to grab the matches and a tea light, and the kids jumped up to go and gaze delightedly at the dark out the front door.

It's a funny thing when the power goes out. I don't mind it, as long as it's not freezing cold and as long as I don't have anything in the oven. It kind of cool how quiet the world outside becomes. Well, quiet when my children aren't shrieking or blowing whistles and flashing their flashlights into everyone's windows or racing around the front yard yelling "WOW IT'S SO DARK LOOK AT ALL THE STARS I LOVE HOW DARK IT IS I WONDER IF GEORGE HAS A FLASHLIGHT THIS IS SO EXCITING MUM COME OUT COME OUT!" They adore it when the power goes out, but that's only because it has yet to cause them any inconvenience. This time it was due to a massive wind storm that whipped through the area. It blew over our neighbour's deck umbrellas, knocked down some tree branches, and carried a lot of newspapers to various front yards. Today our back yard is littered with debris: clumps of Garry oak branches, rowan leaves, and lots of plastic nursery pots from my "collection" (sounds better when I call it that). And the front yard had so many pine needles that the kids swept up a garbage can's worth this morning. I even had to race out in the middle of the storm to tie a guy line to my flimsy but what did I expect wicker arbour because it was leaning rather heavily to the East from the winds buffeting it. And the pumpkin I had growing on top of Max's old trike was blown off. It wasn't damaged, luckily. It's been supported by the seat of the trike the whole summer, because it grew off of a vine that on a whim I let grow along my flimsy but what did I expect wire berry trellis. I liked it at first because it looked picturesque curled around the Mason bee house. The vine grew and grew and finally sent off one miserable-looking squash-like object, but I abandoned it to go off on vacation, and when I came back there was a large and remarkably handsome pumpkin in its place. Trouble was, it was about 5' off the ground and looked distinctly precarious. I stacked some odds and ends on the ground under it until I met its bottom and let the pumpkin be supported by them, removing each odd and end as the pumpkin grew. Eventually it reached nearer the ground and is now sitting atmospherically on the trike (a colourful little number in red and yellow), but the trellis looks tragic. It's all saggy and baggy. I have some clothes-line wire to put in its place next spring. Note: never use 16 gauge wire for a berry trellis, particularly if you are unable to resist the allure of a mysteriously seeded vine-that-might-turn-out-to-be-a-pumpkin growing along part of it.

When the power went out, Richard took the kids down the hill to see what might be happening. Max had gone down earlier and reported that a large Hydro truck and several police cars were camped out where our street met the larger road, doing Something Critical to the wires. Richard got down there to find that the chef at the nearby restaurant was also there, shouting in a typically chef-like fashion (I used to be one, so I can say this) about his 200 customers, now sitting in total darkness without their steaks and seafoods. For some reason, I love the idea that we are on the same power grid line as a large restaurant with a feisty chef.

The kids went out with their multitude of flashlights. FDPG had her whistle-and-compass combination, in case she needed to a) find her compass points in the dark, and b) whistle loudly to drive the neighbours completely batty if lost. She set off confidently and I could hear her little whistle all the way down the street and all the way up the street. Fortunately we have very tolerant neighbours. Their kids are all grown up and they like the noises that happy little kids bring, so they aren't rolling their eyes and muttering rude thoughts under their breath when my kids are racing around shrieking excitedly in the darkness of the night. And in my more morbid moments I file these little moments away in my mind, for when I'm old and they're grown up and off on their own adventures.

I started this post with a view to showing you my ingenious method of ripening cherry tomatoes. With all the rain we've had lately my last tomatoes are splitting, so I hauled in several buckets' worth mid-week. But a week or so ago I was picking some cherry tomatoes and accidentally pulled too hard and one heavy branch cracked off. It was a nice branch, too; lots of tomatoes on it. So I hung it up in the kitchen, and now look at it:
They even taste good. And now I have, to borrow Dominic's phrase, gazillions of tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness, loafing around the dining room, sitting on tables, on sideboards, on top of the Pig From Guinea's cage, and all over the washer and dryer. I have bowls of ripe and semi-ripe Yellow Pears, Sungolds, and Sweet 100s, big dishes of ripe and semi-ripe Big Bites, Bonne's Best, Romas, and Lemon Boys, and ice cream buckets of green Tigerellas and Beefsteaks (I forget exactly what they are but they are big). It's like an episode of Star Trek, the one with the Tribbles. Only I have tomatoes. And believe me, they are no trouble at all.


Anonymous said...

If they start to overwhelm you put a bunch in a roasting pan with some whole garlic cloves, and maybe some basil or oregano, slather in olive oil (I'm a "you can never use too much olive oil person") and stick them in the oven at 400F for about an hour. Push them through a sieve (I have one of the conical ones with a wooden thing for squishing them). Depending on how watery it is, it makes either fabulous tomato garlic soup or fabulous pasta sauce (or marinade for chicken). If you use all cherries you get the latter but I did some with a bunch of beefsteaks as well (quartered?) and that was more like soup.

sheila said...

Thanks. I want one of those conical things now. That sounds great. I could freeze it, too.

I'm with you on the olive oil. There's nothing like it for roasting vegetables.

Vivian said...

You are so lucky your family eats fresh tomatoes! My kids won't let one touch their lips, unless it is in the form of ketchup or spaghetti sauce. Go figure.

Enjoy the bounty!