Over the summer I always forget, or choose to not remember, how difficult winters can be at the cabin. Maybe I was fooled by that extra long autumn where I left the front door open on sunny days and didn’t need a fire for warmth until the end of November.
So it was a shock to arrive at the cabin this week and find all the water jugs turned to ice. In the refrigerator a jar of beet juice had frozen and then cracked, leaving a black ooze on the shelf. Without water, I couldn’t clean it up. When I went to make lunch, I found the olive oil was frozen. I set it out on the table in the sun, along with all the frozen water containers, and let the sun’s warmth work its magic—although slowly.
All small inconveniences but a reminder that most of the time I live in supreme comfort in Boulder—water that comes out of a tap and that I don’t have to boil if I want it hot; heat that comes on automatically and doesn’t require sawing and stacking wood and constant efforts to keep the fire going; and warm floors that don’t force me to wear a blanket around my ankles.
I had a mission this week: to disperse the seeds I had collected all fall on the soil disturbed by the septic system. I had tried last year but the juncos had availed themselves of the free meal. This year I had brought up bags of topsoil to cover the seeds and foil the birds, but I had waited too long and missed my chance, because the bags were frozen solid. I brought one bag inside to thaw out by the portable heater, but by the time the soil got even a little bit soft, the winds had come up, meaning my efforts to get the seeds on the ground would be cast to the wind.
There was nothing left to do but go for a walk and shake off the frustrations, but I was met with more resistance: wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph. At times, I was literally stopped in my tracks, the wind coming straight at me, while I tried to hang on to my hat, put my head down and turn away from the gravel blowing in my face. Finally, I turned my back to the wind and walked up the hill backwards to avoid the brunt of the wind. Of course, I couldn’t see where I was going, but on a day like this and in a time of upheaval, where nothing makes sense anymore, it seemed the only sensible thing to do.