The Freeze

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.

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6 Responses to The Freeze

  1. Laura says:

    You live in a kind of heaven most people only dream of, even if your daily effort to stay warm and fed is an effort they can’t imagine. I truly believe that tens of thousands of years of priming our genes to respond to the cold and dark of winter cues us to introspection, and those who live in places where it’s always artificially loud, warm, and indistinguishable from summer may suffer in ways that are too subtle for us to see with the broad lens used by modern medicine: sadness, lethargy, a pervasive sense of meaninglessness and despair, an addictive attraction to what is superficial. Bless you in your wood-fueled home, your intensely contemplative life. I think about your cold cold land as we still wait for the first true freeze. It’s warm here in northern Ohio, strangely and wrongly warm. In the 50’s today. I worry about our bees, creatures that should be slowed by the chill and barely using their food stores. I worry about the plants, confused by weeks of nearly spring-like temperature. I wonder why I’m still harvesting broccoli, chard, Brussels sprouts, kale, and more from my garden that I should have cut down to feed the cows but still grows and grows. I admit to some mystical thinking, but I am beginning to think that more of us need to be connected to the land in real ways, as you are, to truly see. Stay warm my friend.

    • admin says:

      I appreciate your feedback, Laura, and you are so articulate! It is unusual here too, weather-wise. Tonight it is in the mid-thirties, maybe. I do not have the wood stove going, am burning propane with the wall heater, which I will shut off when I go to bed. In the past, we have had a snow by this time. If I were not worrying about paying all my credit card bills, as well as the other regular stuff, I would be hunkering down and enjoying this place, but nothing like worry to mess things up! So, am just leaving myself open to gut-level intuition and will make some sort of move in the next couple of days. Either find a job, or just stop worrying and ride it out. It really is beautiful here, so peaceful and quiet. Do not really wish to go anywhere!
      Thank you for being here, and hope your winter shows up like it’s supposed to!

  2. Elena says:

    Hey,My woodstove/cookstove ( an Enterprise King ) sells an aceathmtnt that can go into the cookstove as it can be used to heat hot water as well as heat and cook off of. I know that having it installed voids the insurance coverage though. In the back of the stove are 2 plugs where the in/out of the water heater source and heated water go. I did not get it for 2 reasons..the insurance as mentioned as well as the fact that I don’t have a hot water heater that stores water..all of my hot water is stored in the well sure its cold but the instantaneous water heater takes care of the hot water as we need it. From last dec-july it used $20 worth of propane to heat water for showers and dishes. Mind you I do shower at the gym 3 times a week already so it might be $35-40 if I were showering everyday at home.If I were thinking of wood heat for water I would consider solar hot water systems always availible secondhand online for really cheap and if you have done plumbing before it is fairly if you rig it with a solar pump you don’t need any electricity on many days of the year..perfect for off-grid plus, if you have something like a hot water radiator it can heat your house too. I have limited space so there is more to consider with purchases. hehe

  3. Victoria L. Young says:

    You are an inspiration to me and I think of you often, so I decided to let you know how much I admire what you are doing. I plan to try to do the same except I live in Montana and it gets so cold. Nonetheless, this post has inspired me since I have lived in a cabin here through winters 30 below zero using only my woodstove for heat. I loved it, but as you have described here, you have to keep it going. Getting up in the night was a ritual to stoke the fire. Thank you for your courage and strength to set this example. Please befriend me on facebook–Victoria L. Young–so I can keep in touch with you.
    LoveLight and Peace sent to you today and always,

    Victoria Young

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your response, Victoria. I must admit, it gets difficult at times, particularly when trying to stay on top of the bills! Right now it is snowing again, and I am socked in with no way to get out to the pavement…so job hunting is at a standstill. Hope you are managing well. Thirty below sounds unbearable!! See you Face Book. 🙂

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