Here is the email I just sent out to the Silent Seasons Author Community (subscribe to receive emails from me 2x per month in the right column!). I thought it was worth sharing with more people, so I made a post for it. Here’s to 2023! xoxo, Laura
Dear Silent Seasons Author Community,
I hope this email finds you safe, warm, and connected to a reliable source of electricity. My home city Buffalo, NY has once again made national news this year – we are now recovering from the intense “blizzard hurricane” that paralyzed Western New York beginning Friday morning. I just had to check my calendar to confirm that it is now Tuesday because between the holidays and the storm, time has been alternating between fast and slow.
My family (which includes my partner, his 10-year-old son, Sunny the dog, and Neptune the cat) survived the blizzard without any emergencies. Although we did not get to celebrate the holidays in the way that we planned, I am grateful to be safe. It was interesting to pay attention to my thoughts and emotions throughout the blizzard – they started out sad and frustrated that I wouldn’t have a “normal” holiday, and then quickly moved into fear about not having power/heat while the temperature of the house stayed in the mid-30’s, plus deep concern for others in the storm. The worst part was not knowing when the power would come back on. We had a Christmas miracle and our power/heat arrived the afternoon of the 25th! I felt so happy and relieved – I’m still trying to let go of the layers of tension I accumulated while waiting in the cold.
Although our house did not have power or heat, we did have running (cold) water, a working toilet, and a working gas range stove (the oven operates from an electric control pad, so the range was the only part that we could self-light). We went grocery shopping the night before the storm, so we enjoyed huge pots of hot chili and stew and didn’t worry about going hungry. I had a lantern and flashlight in my camping bag, plus many candles. We all camped out in a blanket fort in our living room to stay warm. I have a new appreciation for the game “20 Questions” being able to pass time in the dark.
Although it was uncomfortable and scary throughout this blizzard, I was much more prepared, privileged, and lucky compared to many other people here in Western New York. There are a lot of conversations happening on social media, the press, and between individuals judging people who looted stores during the blizzard and what is “right” and “wrong” about that (did they steal “essentials”?). My perspective on this comes from the fact that the City of Buffalo is one of the poorest and most segregated cities in the US and there are many people that have been living in extreme poverty their entire lives. This blizzard was a life-or-death event where it was clear that no help would be coming, and I am not going to judge people who were put in such a desperate situation with no safety net (again).
I’ve had a lot of time to think about sustainability, resilience, and what “climate action” really means over the past few days. I really hope that Buffalo, Erie County, and all of Western New York will start providing me and my neighbors with the skills, resources, and support they need to survive storms like this, which will inevitably happen again in one form or another. Saying this blizzard is the “Storm of the Century” is a misnomer that lies to people about our future – strong storms will happen again, and sooner than we think. We all must learn from this and build resiliency.
I also want to say that when it comes to climate change action, I know we all want “simple” replacements where gas-powered machines and appliances switch to being electric-powered, but that puts people in an incredibly vulnerable and dependent position when the power goes out. For example, I know gas-powered stoves are being vilified these days, but during this blizzard, my gas range allowed me to cook hot food, make tea, and when the house got really cold (32 degrees), heat up the kitchen a few degrees by heating up large pots of water. Our climate solutions have to be more nuanced, focused on the needs of the people, and based on the characteristics of the specific bioregion they are being implemented in.
Well, this is the last email you will receive from me in 2022! I hope you’re doing well, safe, warm, rested, and gearing up for the New Year. I have many podcast, book, and website plans for 2023 that I am working to set in motion. Stay tuned!
Lots of love,