I knew it was coming, the first major freeze. I prepared for it somewhat but not quite thoroughly enough.
I did a bit a laundry day before yesterday, hanging all clothes on a line I tied across my open living space, as it was damp outdoors. I filled all 30 of the gallon jugs with water and they sit on the floor of my galley-like kitchen where they may well freeze if I do not keep the wood stove stoked. I carried wood onto the front porch for easier access when I have to load the stove every couple of hours. What I did not do was drain the water line that is set up in order to have water come into my kitchen sink. Maybe I am running an experiment, to see if the heavy-duty hose that runs from the water tank up on the hill to the cabin will burst. In any case, I will know how heavy duty it is when it warms up a bit today. I hope I have not damaged the line. To replace it would be out of the question, at this point.
Sure enough, as I sat upstairs last night at the computer, the temperature plummeted. I realized I had not stoked the stove in a couple of hours so I went downstairs to check it. The room was frigid, and there were just a few coals left with which to get the fire going again. I packed the stove as full as possible with dry wood; the crackling sound of burning wood reassured me that I could go to bed for a few hours and know the house would stay somewhat warm.
This morning I came up out of a dream and looked at the clock. It is time to get up, check the stove, and renew the fire. There were still coals, so I carried in more wood and got it going once more, letting it burn hard and fast for at least ten minutes in order to burn off any built up soot. I checked the water line hanging over the sink. It is frozen. I warmed up the coffee left over from yesterday and, cup of coffee in hand, stood by the stove, thinking how quickly I went through all the wood I carried on to the porch. I wonder if I will actually have enough wood to get through this winter, at the rate that I am burning it. There are another twelve weeks of cold in store for us here in these hills. It will be a day-by-day challenge, getting through winter. Between staying warm and having water, I will be busy.
Yesterday, as I looked for any comments on my website to any posts, I came across more spam. One of the “comments” caught my attention. It was a lure to sit at my computer and earn money by answering surveys. Gullible as I am, I looked at the information and responded. This is what I do, desperate to make a few extra dollars. I jumped in, and before I knew it, I was losing track of which sites I was signing up with to answer “surveys.” It took me a couple of hours to realize they all are trying to sell the same stuff: car insurance, life insurance, home insurance, baby clothes, toiletries, snack foods and beverages, skin care, make up, online education, pharmaceuticals, video games, smart phones and kindles, audio books. As I signed up with several survey sites, I mused on how my name and phone number are now in every data bank possible, and I would soon be hearing my phone ring incessantly with offers. The one thing I must remember is that every person on the other end of the line is also just trying to survive, so I will maintain an attitude of patient listening, and gently decline all offers to buy anything, for in truth, I do not have the funds with which to purchase anything. What is astounding is how repetitive all the surveys are. They all endeavor to sell people the same stuff, and I am the last person interested, for I do not buy any of it.
I am interested in the consciousness of the masses, and to me it is sad to see the ceaseless manipulation of minds by the world of commerce. There is much more to life, and I hope soon, people will become aware of how very little one needs in order to live.
I may be sitting at the edge of the financial abyss, but at least I am living in a place where I do not require any of the stuff most people think important to have. I am fundamentally healthy, and I eat simple, organically grown, home-cooked food. I do not take medicine. I shall die one day, but my children have no expectations of any huge inheritance that may be the result of my having a life insurance policy. I am not too anxious about my phone ringing off the hook with calls from persons trying to sell me something because my phone has had a glitch for a while, where long distance calls coming in do not make it through. The phone company still has not found the glitch, and that is good. When I feel the need to speak with a friend or a family member who is in another state, I just call them and ask them to call me back. If the call does not come in, then I just go online and message them.
The day has dawned. The bare trees, less than forty minutes ago, were not completely visible, and the sky was a lovely color of indigo, with tinges of golden light on the horizon. Now I can see the trees, and the sky is appearing light blue, cloudless. It is going to be a beautiful, cold day.
Tonight the freeze will come again, even colder than last night. I will carry in more wood and keep the fire going. I will drain the water line if it actually thaws. Over in the garden I must turn over the engine of the tractor and let it idle for about fifteen minutes in order to keep the battery alive. I will look at the beets to see if any are large enough to harvest. Perhaps I will remember to take the shears with me so I can cut the seed pods off the flowers that grew all summer and are now standing dry and brittle. I will go online at some point and see if I can bear to answer any surveys so that perhaps I can earn a couple of dollars. By the end of the day I will have spent time dealing with only those things needing my attention and not much else. At this point, I am thankful to see this new day, with its deep freeze and the challenges it presents, which are blessedly few.