In the Ditch…

This has been the testiest of winters EVER, for me.  We have a lovely pile-up of feathery soft snow on the Homestead.  It's beautiful.  The kind of snow  you see on an International Coffees commercial.  Perfect little flakes drifting down from the sky.  Skiers and snowboarders are PSYCHED!

I'm ready to pack my bags and head south.  If it weren't for the store, I'd probably be gone.  Not kidding.

This morning, the boys and I packed ourselves into the "new" Subaru ('94 Legacy), heading off to the store to work.  Not fifty yards from the house, the car gets stuck.  I put 'er in reverse, hoping to back up and go forwards again with more momentum.  Instead, my car just slides sideways into the ditch near the skunk culvert (site of Andy's bloody triumph over one of the smelly critters last spring).  I get stuck, really freakin' stuck.

I'm worn out on winter.  It got the best of me today. Already with the spring fantasies.  Pining away: Rick Bass in Winter says that's the worst thing you can do.  He says you can't give up on winter: If you do, you are resigning yourself to unhappiness for months.  He says if you start wishing for Spring in February, you are setting yourself up, because winter isn't going anywhere for a long time. Not around here. Not this year, anyway.

Keep trying to remind myself:  I signed up for this.  I knew it would be hard.  Buck up and be a happy person. So it goes.  I'm trying to unclench my clenched-up heart as we speak.  I love my life, dammit.

Yesterday Axel woke up wheezing away through phlegm-hindered breathing, and I held him on the couch pretty much all day, except for a few small breaks.  One of the small breaks we took was to bring compost down the garden.  Here is what we saw on the way.

Mostly chickens it turns out.  They're not giving up on winter! They have routines to give structure to their freezing days, like ambling up to the cabin at breakfast to beg for scraps. They were very entertaining this morning.  I couldn't believe that they followed us down to the garden through such deep snow!  It's funny to watch chickens waddle through deep snow.

Subarctic temperatures now.  So we made pie.  And I got the car stuck again.  Oh well.  Just another day.

I wonder…

I wonder what the Moon family talked about in that tiny little cabin, when they were all trapped inside during an icy cold winter?  Did they have to store up words during the spring and summer, like they would potatoes, onions, and squash?  Did they file away topics-to-be-discussed during the busy months outside, just for those long February days when they were so tired of seeing each others' faces they could barely stand it?

They must have gotten intensely irritated with one another, living at such close quarters.  Hearing each little grunt, moan, heavy-breathing-while-eating moment.  Watching one another complete daily routines over and over without distraction must have been maddening at times.

We spend a lot of time inside during the winter here too, here in this tiny little house.  We don't have a TV.  But we have a computer, and we also work outside of the house a few days a week.  We have a comfortably heated car that can transport us places that are comfortably heated, like the library.  So, we can escape one another easily, when we feel like we need to see something different for awhile.

Maybe they didn't annoy each other at all.  Maybe it didn't occur to them to be annoyed by little things.  Or they didn't allow themselves to get annoyed because they were trapped, and needed to make it through a long winter with sanity intact and relationships healthy.  I wish I could answer these questions.  I wish I could talk to Luella Moon.

I miss my grandma.  Being on the Homestead makes me wish I would have spent more time with her, asking her questions about her childhood and so on.  She was a farmer, seamstress, water-color painter, wife, mother, cook, and so much more.  Thinking of Luella makes me think of my grandmother.

The Moon cabin was the original structure, a "frame house", 12 by 24 feet, built by the Moon family when they first started their homesteading venture in 1889.  It was a temporary residence while they built the farmhouse.  And, although they probably built the bigger farmhouse soon after, they did likely have to endure at least one winter in that tiny cabin.  A five-person family in a 12 by 24 foot room!  We are lucky to live  in our 770 square foot cabin.  I will try to remember that come February, when I'm ready to chew off my own arm.

Moon Cabin

Butter Churn

*side note*

The Moons and their extended family lived on the Homestead for about 18 years, before selling to the Randolph's in 1907. So much of what we see here on the Homestead today is  left from the Randolphs, who resided here from 1907-1996.

I'm starting to get slightly panicky as the weather gets gradually cooler.   Winter is closer, and soon I will be worried about freezing pipes, frozen roads, cabin-fevered kids, and irritation levels.  But for now, I'm going to go ahead and enjoy the end of summer and beginning of fall.