Picture it. A man stands backlit against the setting sun, his hands pressed at the small of his back. He rolls his shoulders. He scans the horizon. Calls the older boy, tells him to run git the draft horse into the barn.

An old woman pushes herself up from shoving another log into the stove. She rubs her elbows, her wrists, her knuckles. “Rain’s a-comin,’” she says, and her grandchild pops to her feet, with a private sigh, and goes out to fetch in the blankets on the line.

The cows lie down in the field, one after the other, masticating. Maw frowns, and then squints at the sky. Hollers at Paw to latch the shutters. Stawn’s comin’ in.

There’s a romance to it: the human antennae on quiver mode, cilia bending, the heads tilted this way, and then that, pulling in barometric information from the curling leaves and the animals and through their very pores. One more animal pulling survival out of the sparest of clues. Wisdom in the bones.

It could be said that we know even more now. But we’re one disabled cell tower away from disaster.

Our condition would be baffling for the last fifteen thousand years of our ancestors. We don’t look at the sky. Ever. We don’t know where the stars should be, or what phase the moon is in. We hoover up an unthinkable volume of invented food and poke at our devices to come up with a reason for our discomfort. We decide our sore joints are from wheat allergies, or some fabricated interpretation of normal planetary perambulations, or that we need magnets in our socks. But I will tell you what. Those old -timers may have known some stuff, but they did not know a Bomb Cyclone was coming in four days at 2pm.

Right now, Wednesday December 21, 2022, it’s sunny and in the forties, and I am bent over my palm-sized oracle like everyone else, and I know our temperature is going to plummet to fourteen degrees tonight. My joints are mute, but my phone is all over it. It’s not unprecedented, but it’s not normal. Our blow will be, relatively speaking, a glancing one. The weather models show a tight meteorological screw about to be tightened over the midwest United States and points east. It looks like a big Arctic fist. I have enough time to check my recipes and go out to get the yams, kale, coconut milk, and carrots I think I will need to make good stews and roasts for the next chilly few days.

None of it will work out if the predicted ice and wind event takes out our power. We have no idea what to do if we can’t warm up our food and our selves. I expect it will involve peanut butter, a lot of layers of clothes that owe their insulation to plastics and not fur—fur works better than anything but people will hold you in derision—and an expectation that only a few days will be involved. More, and we’re screwed. We’ve got a houseful of food but not a lot of skills, and no camp stove anymore. We should have gotten something like that. We should have stuck popsicle sticks in the frozen lasagna.

But we’ll be okay. Not because we have the habit of preparation and self-reliance, but because our devices say it will all be over in another two days. We can hunker down together in piles of blankets, with a cat in there somewhere, self-inserted. And eat Christmas cookies. And sing “Oh come oh come Electric Company.” We’ll be fine, this time.