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SPOTLIGHT WEB EXCLUSIVE: Living in the Ice World

Burnt Hills Spotlight reporter Cari Scribner lives in Malta.

My kids had hoped for a white Christmas, but instead, got an icy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

We woke up Monday, Jan. 15, in Malta to a spectacular sight: icy, crystallized branches on trees, blades of grass frozen into glittery carpeting, icicles dangling from car fenders and mailboxes. But within minutes, we saw the heavily weighted pine trees and delicate white birches bending precariously, and then heard the cracks of branches falling to the ground. Out back, enormous tree limbs dipped dangerously close to our shed and our new swimming pool.

The wind whistled once, and, like a match blown out, the power in our house shut off around 10 a.m.

Celebration ensued until the kids realized they hadn't properly charged up their laptops and Game Boys, and that the portable DVD player was meant to be powered by the car lighter.

I went searching for candles (found 6, all scented bathroom type candles rather than rugged emergency lights) and flashlights (found one, barely functional). My husband said the now infamous words, Nothing's going to happen, it's not that cold outside.

We hunkered down for the day, then called out for Chinese food and ate as if we were hibernating for the winter. Without the Internet, we had a single source of information: my husband's walkman, tuned into a radio station offering bleak news. We were one of 43,000 families left in the dark that evening.

Somewhere around 4 p.m., as our fingers and toes went numb, we realized our home would soon be a dark cavern, and we made plans to flee.

My father-law had power in Clifton Park, and so we loaded most of our socks, all our mittens, the sleeping bags and our guinea pig into the car. At the last minute we grabbed our toothbrushes, laptops and cell phone chargers. I yelled at my middle son, Ryan, for walking on the slippery lawn.

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