Saturday, April 5, 2014

Still Kicking


We're in town for today, most definitely our last trip before our road is too muddy to drive on. It's almost there now. By the time it thaws, I'll be in the final days of waiting for baby (mid-May), so neither of us will be going far.

Winter seems to be finally loosening its grip on us, at least around here. Someone said to me recently "It's been just like The Long Winter in the Little House books." So I picked up The Long Winter and read it. No. This was not just like The Long Winter. The Ingalls family, and the whole town, came close to starving and freezing to death that winter. They ran out of food and fuel, and the trains couldn't run through the snow.

One thing that struck me in the book - when they ran out of kerosene, Ma said that she could make a light for them, if only they had a bit of grease. She said that having light was never a problem when she was a child "before anyone had ever heard of this newfangled kerosene". Pa replied that times were too progressive. Railroads, telegraphs, coal stoves and kerosene lamps - they were all good things to have, but the problem was that people *relied* on them. And of course, that's one thing I've spoken about plenty on this blog. Technology is wonderful to have, but the problem is that too many of us *rely* on it. It is certainly possible to live without unlimited electricity, or running water, or central heat, or plenty of the things that many of us think we need.

Anyway, after reading The Long Winter, I thought about all the things that made this NOT The Long Winter for us. We had plenty of firewood. Although it got to -25C, it didn't get down to the -40 that Pa Ingalls had to deal with. We grumbled a little at -25C when even a roaring fire barely brought the house temperature to 20C, and we grumbled a little more at how cold the bedrooms were when the fire went out by morning. BUT ... my children certainly didn't have frost or snow inside their bedroom. The coldest our house ever got in the morning was 8C. (Like Pa and Ma, we said, "Stay in your warm beds until we get the fire going." Unlike Laura and Mary, our children wouldn't stay in bed, so I guess they weren't that cold.) This little cabin has its failings, but it kept us warm and safe during some howling blizzards this winter.

Actually, here's a funny thought - we were all running around outside without coats yesterday evening, loving the 10C warmth. Yet when the house is 10C, we're shivering and acting like we're freezing.

Unlike the Ingalls, I have a pantry (STILL) full of home-preserved meat, vegetables, fruit and pickles. Not only am I fine to make it to the spring thaw, but we'll be fine until the fall crops come in.

And I'm going to give a great big shout-out to the snow plow drivers around here. There was only *one* time when we were snowed in longer than 12 hours. That was when we had three snow storms within a week, and I'm sure those poor men were run ragged trying to keep the main roads plowed. They did an amazing job keeping our dirt road cleared of snow, even coming by to scrape the road down when it was covered it ice, and I never felt like we were trapped with no way to get out.

As much as Pa Ingalls complained of people relying on modern conveniences, he was waiting just as desperately for the grocery train as his neighbours, and his family nearly starved.

It certainly wasn't an easy winter. There was not a huge amount of sunlight, making it hard to charge our batteries. And when you hear about other people running out of firewood, it makes you eye your own woodpile carefully, but we never ran out. The hardest part was when our cold water pipe burst. I wasn't about to call a plumber to come out and do outside/under the house work during that kind of winter. So we've done without running water. I'll say it was mostly a nuisance. However, Mr. D had to haul the water, so perhaps he'd say something different! We did learn, though, that heating water *as you need it* is hands down the most fuel-efficient way. I don't think I could justify a hot water tank after this, unless it's entirely solar-heated.

At any rate, winter is over. It was 10C yesterday, and rainy today. Warm temperatures are predicted for the next while, which means our road is going to thaw and heave - mud and ruts. I'm happy to be in town today, but that's probably not going to happen again for a while. I'll try to write some posts and get Mr D to post them when he can.

Please know that I'm thinking fondly of all of you! :)
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