Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Big Dump Of 09

A blogger's avatar is buried up to his eyeballs in snow from the Big Dump of '09'. Only the tiniest of windows remained open to the outside world. An old land line phone that doesn't need electricity to work is plugged in to see if a call can be made to the utility company. It works, but the phone doesn't ring when someone tries to call me.

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee and I'll tell you about the mundane routine of staying alive when you are powerless, cut off from the world and trapped from escape. Water for my morning cup of coffee was stacked neatly on the table out on the deck.

Despite plummeting temperatures inside the igloo, the refrigerator was beginning to warm and the freezer to thaw. There was plenty of cold, just not in the right places. Boxes were excavated in the drifts of snow piled on the deck and the contents of the freezer were placed outside. Let's hope the varmints are snowed in too.

Now I have discovered that the shady west facing deck makes a better freezer than the sunny south facing one.

Rise before dawn and light a fire. The record interior low was 49 degrees on the third day. Boil snow for some coffee. Ah the joys of a gas stove. A full pot of snow amounts to an inch of water in the bottom of a pot.

Trudge to the top of the ridge top garden to collect log sections to be split into firewood. Bring logs down below the deck where there is room out of the snow to work. Tend the fire to keep it burning hot.

Split logs into firewood. Tend the fire to keep it burning hot. The goal for the day is to get the inside temperature back up to 60 degrees at a minimum. Fetch more logs. Split more wood. Tend the fire to keep it burning hot.

By mid-afternoon enough wood was chopped and stacked to make it through the night and into the next frigid morning. There is time for a stroll. Shrubberies are pressed to the ground from the weight of the snow. Only the melt will reveal if there has been damage.

The poor dying Hemlocks get a few last moments of splendor.

Talking story with the younger James while they searched for the invisible cow, he told me that this small cabin had burned down twice. I worry about leaving a hot untended fire. A conventional fireplace has to be the absolute worst way to heat a house. Eighty percent of the heat goes up the chimney and it is constantly spitting out hot embers into the room. If you close the glass door even less heat makes it into the room.

Let me just say if I do not light another fire for the rest of the winter I will be quite content.

All lined up and ready to go.

We can hope for a year to come without Late Blight.

It seems like a good chunk of snow has slid off the roof of the cozy cabin. I watch this knowing any plantings along this side of the cabin will have to anticipate the thud. The final knowing will be to see what if any difference is created by a heated cabin. It could be too that some snow guards that will break up the sheet into smaller pieces will be needed on the roof.


This could qualify as winter interest.

In a heavy snow, stones have to have some substance to create any kind of a lump.

Red columns in the white snow.

It is time to head back to tend the fire. If I want to make 60 degrees before dark I need to keep it burning hot. I lose about ten degrees while I sleep.

Supper is chosen from the deck and cooked on the gas stove while there is still enough light to see. Tend the fire. Keep it burning hot before the boredom of pitch dark sends you to bed.

Rise before dawn to light a fire. Boil snow for your morning coffee. Tend the fire. Fetch logs down to below the deck. Split wood. Tend the fire. Cook some dinner. Tend the fire. Repeat.


Anonymous said...

Now we know how the frontier folks used to live, huh? I guess it is too late to contemplate a vented wood stove for your cozy cabin against the chance of this happening over there - or perhaps a generator...clearly your parents know what they are doing to leave in November, haha!
Glad you are surviving; we were getting a bit concerned.


Christopher C. NC said...

Bev let me just say that this experience has made me more determined than ever NOT to have a fireplace or wood stove. It fills the house with smoke, you have to feed the thing all day long and constantly watch it. Not to mention all that wood chopping and hauling. Forget it.

I will just have to have a generator or even a small plug in battery for the pilot light on the furnace. A pilot light can only take a miniscule amount of electric power to spark.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

It is no wonder that folks used to go stir crazy during these snowy times. It was a matter of survival only.

I think those lumps in the snow are interesting. How did Uncle Ernie fare in the blizzard?

Have you had to resort to a litter box for the cats? I bet they wonder what happened to their world.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, just trying to stay alive is a whole lotta work up there without power. The gas stove is worth its weight it seems. Do you have lanterns or candles? I guess you have learned some valuable lessons about what kind of supplies you will be needing on hand in the future, including a better land phone. The cozy cabin looks wonderful in the snow with those red pillars and grey paint. Such art in the tomato cages and stoney points too. Love the phrase, neatly stack water. Glad you are back to present day with power, we were worried about you, but know you are a resourceful and clever guy.

Christopher C. NC said...

Lisa Uncle Ernie is looking fine. He is rather calm in survival situations. The cats only seem to enjoy being out for about an hour after dark. Otherwise they turn up their noses at an open door. No litterbox and they will be forced outside for a few days with all the comforts of home under a dry part of the house.

Frances my biggest fear was to survive all this then slip and fall on the icy steps from the melt off the roof. Staying alive is exhausting and yes this is a valuable lesson for needed supplies. I even found a battery operated electric power backup thing online. It will be more than enough to power my tiny gas furnace pilot light like the one in the room above your garage.

Gail said...

Oh Christopher~~I am thinking how ill-equipted most of us would be for this adventure. Battery backed up everything sounds perfect...I totally understand why folks get gas powered generators to keep essentials running.

But, the snow is beautiful to look out upon~~

Happiest of holidays in your beautiful and now warm cabin!


Les said...

Have you had to shoot or trap anything in order to eat yet?

Christopher C. NC said...

Gail the snow is beautiful there is no doubt. Electricity just brings good things to life, eh. The battery powered backups I checked out on line are small and quite simple and would be good to have for emergencies. They claim all kinds of power, but shorter duration of course. Just the essential would be kept, heat and water.

Les I haven't had to shoot my supper yet, but I did hear five gun shots Monday afternoon very close by. I think they were at the pull out on the road just outside the driveway entrance where lots of folks like to dump their rubbish.

Strangest thing, I can't get to my blog direct and had to try all these sneaky routes to get in.

Lola said...

Yeah, I will agree that this situation will bring to light quite a few things that will be needed in the future.
I also put food from our freezer & fridge out in the snow & it did keep better. Just sit a gallon of milk down into the snow & see how fast it becomes icy or slushy.
Have you ever had snow cream? It is to die for. Way back {when I was a kid} that was a big treat for us.
Take care.

chuck b. said...

I would suggest a bottle of brandy for the emergency snow kit but I think you don't drink. You are very practically minded and resourceful. Were you a Boy Scout? I hope there will be no more of this when you come back from warm, rainy Florida.

lisa said...

Heh, I'm reading backwards time-wise, and just suggested a wood stove :) I agree though, I dislike the idea of heat that requires so much physical maintenance. Mine is all electric though, and there are times I wish I had simple fire backup. Battery backup really sounds like the ticket! Beautiful winter pictures, BTW!

Siria said...

Hi Christopher!~ Your pictures are fabulous. I am glad to know you survived this ordeal and are now having a nice family holiday. I never could have imagined this much snow up here! We were almost "snowed out"!