• Jeni Kelsch

Zombies, Like Us


I recently watched a documentary that told the tale of the director’s grandfather, a man in his 80’s living on a small farm in the woods of upper New England. He logs with horse drawn carts, heats his home with a large masonry wood burning stove and generally spends most days with, as he put it, “His best friends, the animals and the trees.” Being of a generation that doesn’t often live in the woods with woodburning stoves and tree buddies, I thought, “That sounds nice!” God, it seems, is not without a sense of humor, for that night a tree, apparently not one that likes me, fell across the power lines at the top of my driveway and took out the entire powerpole, rendering us powerless for two days. The sound of a chainsaw at five o’clock in the morning was the harbinger of our doom. It was the day after Thanksgiving, I hadn’t even finished washing the dishes. I had had company, which means I had hidden all the dirty laundry, but had not had time to wash it. It was approaching my daughter’s birthday, for entertainment she enjoys light after the sun goes down. This simple lifestyle didn’t really sound so nice anymore.


We played board games, all of them. We chopped wood and lit fires for fun. Finally, we couldn’t take the constant chill and the dark. We went to a movie, we went bowling, we went out to lunch…and dinner. Perhaps it’s because they know we look at them as firewood and breakfast, but the trees and animals simply weren’t enough companionship when it got cold and dark.

I used to wonder, when the zombie apocalypse hit, if we could make it longer than the average bear. I now know we might, but we wouldn’t want to. There is so much more work to be done in a day without the help of modern conveniences. Within 12 hours of loosing power my house looked like we had decided the only way to keep warm was to wrap ourselves in all our personal belongings. I am sure all the closets were empty, it had all been transferred to the living room floor. On top of that, perhaps to find tangible evidence that we would not starve, my children had decided that the cabinets in the kitchen no longer worked when the power is out and left every box, bag and snack displayed on the kitchen counter. Leaving the house didn’t help, we brought the mess with us. Granted showers were out of the question, but the outfits we put together guaranteed that we could not reenter modern society undetected. Our lives had become chaos and dirt. Without power we didn’t seem capable of sweeping the floor, throwing away trash, or picking up our socks. Life, in short, was a big, cold, complicated, dirty mess. And that was in 24 hours. Had we had to endure much more, I think we could have navigated the zombies undetected, we would have looked just like them.


There were some nice things that came out of our chilly experiment in simple living. Our best source of warmth turned out to be each other. We had fun, the kids suffered but never complained, and without much cell phone power I think our attention spans and conversations lasted a little longer. I liked that. It turns out my best friends may not be the animals and the trees but flesh and blood. My husband and children kept me warm and comforted, and just like God, we laughed a good bit.

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