Mr and Mrs Rockburne

Things We Take for Granted

As my husband and I headed down a windy gravel road on the west side of Blue Sea Lake in Northwest Quebec, we noticed a popular tree positioned across the road directly on a power line. We didn’t think much about this picture as we were determined to reach our rental cottage before sunset. Our goal was to put the perishables in the refrigerator, unpack our suitcases and set up the kitchen for our annual vacation.

We unlocked the cottage door and tried to turn on the light switch, but there was no power. I even tried to place our perishables in a warm refrigerator. My husband quickly headed to the closet in the kitchen to check the circuit breakers and of course, there was no power!


We quickly realized that we could not get any running water from the faucets in the kitchen or bathroom. Much to my surprise, we could not flush the toilet since the water pump was not working as well.

We knew we had a problem as evening would be approaching & we needed to eat dinner before sunset.

Our first instinct was to talk with one of our neighbors and determine how long the power was out. After a quick walk to the next-door neighbor’s cottage, my husband learned that there had been a huge wind and rainstorm 24 hours previous.


He learned that Hydro Quebec promised that power would be restored at 11 pm that evening. We did not have much faith in this information as we know about power outages in Georgia and sometimes the power company cannot meet deadlines.

While he was talking with the neighbors I checked the kitchen cabinets & every nook and cranny in the cottage for candles & matches but none were found.

It was approaching 6 pm on a Saturday evening and we knew that we needed to purchase ice to preserve our perishables, as well as, candles matches to prepare our dinner.

Our game plan was to get in our car & head to the hamlet of Blue Sea. The community consists of a community center, one ice cream stand and a convenient store. Since only one side of the lake was without power, we had no problem in finding 5 emergency candles and an old-fashioned matchbox.

We had an intimate candlelight dinner. It had been a long day and we decided to retire early. We could not read, listen to a radio or watch television.

I awoke around 12:30 am for my usual bathroom trip when I noticed a blinding light coming from the living room and kitchen. I was so elated to have power that I decided to read the weekend edition of The Globe & Mail (the Canadian version of the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal). Within a half hour my husband joined me and we devoured every section of the paper. Before we knew it was 3 am when we decided to wander back to bed.

The start of our vacation was unexpected and we were not prepared for an unforeseen circumstance including a power outage.

Here are some practical tips to consider:

  • Be more receptive to your environment
  • Arrive at your location well before nightfall
  • Bring a flashlight & ice chest for perishable foods
  • Alert your neighbors

What do you do in case of an emergency?

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Gail Rockburne
Gail Rockburne
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