This Letter from Langdon is directed to environmental activists everywhere.
Beware. if you visit any of the communities around Langdon over the next few days and mention global warming, you could get an icicle up your nose.
Langdon was hit with a massive ice storm on the 10th of December. The lights went out all over northwest Missouri when poles snapped and power lines dropped under the weight of ice covered tree limbs. Danny, Langdon’s mailman, told me that he had to drag some of those amputated boughs off the road just so the U.S. Mail could get through. He didn’t seem to be in any hurry to finish the day’s work. His Jeep was warm, but his house was not.
Most folks don’t want to know the carbon footprint of that 5000 watt generator out back. (If they’re lucky enough to have one) They already know more than they want to, mainly that it costs $25 per day for gasoline to run the furnace blower and two 60-watt light bulbs. Those who lack the equipment are saving mega bucks, but the temperature in their sitting room is 35 degrees and falling. As for me, I’m just happy to finally be getting a chance to use the 15 horsepower dynamo I bought just in case Y2K alarmists were right. We kept power when the ball dropped in Times Square in 2000, but lost it when the lines fell almost 8 years later.
I think that I wasn’t wrong about turn of the century havoc. It’s just that as a visionary, my foresight is waaaaay out there.
Our son, Brandon, and his wife Kathy lost power before we did, and though our own outage lasted an embarrassingly short 6 hours, they are still waiting. You see, they live at Linden, and while Linden and Langdon have much in common — like the fact that hardly anyone lives in either place anymore — the topography of Linden is closer to that of my five grandchildren laying under the three-rumpled feather comforters that cover the 45 degree family room floor in Linden, rather than the taught, bed sheet flatness of Langdon. That’s the kind of geography that makes it interesting for power company workers. These guys could teach the Wichita Lineman a thing or two.
Kathy was moved to tears when she and the kids left Linden to come to Langdon for warm showers. The kids watched TV and played X Box. Kathy ate HOT soup. And cried.
Once in a while tempers flare. We have gotten so used to our comforts that we seldom stop to think that 100 years ago people just threw another lump of coal on the fire and covered up. But most people are making the best of it. Families pull together, offering warm shelter to those without. Folks with kerosene heaters or generators loan them to those who have none. Friends call to be sure everything is OK.
Me? I gave up my favorite chair to my brother in law”¦”¦ for two whole days.
Sometimes it is the smallest things that lift the human spirit. Like hot soup, X Box, and a functioning wall thermostat next to a soft recliner. Meanwhile, as I sit here writing in our Langdon farm kitchen, a new fallen six-inch snow is blanketing a ¾ inch coating of ice. The temperature is 12 degrees, and the low tonight will be half that.
The visionary in me thinks that we might be in for a new ice age.