Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fetching wood

I left the cabin for the first time since arriving on Sunday. Yup, I made it all the way to the shed to fetch wood. Aaron got home a little early from work today, so it wasn't dark yet. I handed Walker over; threw on boots, hat, gloves, and coat; and pranced outside. The door which leads to the shed has a ramp instead of stairs, we were told it was so the previous owners could wheelbarrow loads of wood right into the house. We also were told, all that wood wasn't enough to get the place warm. I think the most recent owner did some weatherizing, because we don't need wheelbarrows of wood, even though it was windy and down to 9 degrees the other night. And it's a good thing, too, since we don't have a wheelbarrow. I'm hauling wood with a canvas strip affixed with two leather handles.

The snow, powdery and wind blown, looks like sand:

As the light first started fading, it seemed the snow had absorbed it, everything else was receding while the snow glowed bone white. The upper sky was dark blue, with a few large stars, but down below, behind the black branches of the trees, the sky was a pink so delicate it was just shy of white. As the darkness settled in, the snow turned silver, except where the yellow light from our propane lanterns turned it gold. I went back and forth from the shed to the house thinking of my grandfather who died three-and-a-half years ago. Although both my grandparents and my parents heated with wood stoves, it is my grandfather I think of hauling wood. In part this is because I spent more time helping him with wood chores than I did my father. But also, because, micromanager that he was, he was there with me most of the time.

In particular, I remember his hands, in their worn, but stiff, gray work gloves, handling the wood in his fumbley, careful way. The older he got, the fumblier, but never clumsy. We would load his red wheelbarrow and transfer wood from where we had just been sawing it up to the wood pile or from the wood pile to the iron storage hoop on the front porch. And I think of him as I am learning the care and feeding of our stove. The white gravel that surrounded my grandparents stove would crunch when he went down on one knee to tend to the fire. After opening the stove door, he would pause to survey the scene before picking a piece of wood. And then pause again before poking around with the andiron and finally putting the wood in. Despite all this deliberation, he was a ham, not a serious sort.  His humor was whimsical, at times, cornball, and always kind. His wheelbarrow is waiting for me in Vermont. As soon as we can figure out transport, we will bring it here to join his saws, wrenches, and screwdrivers. I'm so glad I have these things, even though they make me miss him even more.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Digging out

As the top half of the Eastern Seaboard digs out from the recent blizzard, I started digging out from our recent move. The boxes have collected in drifts along the walls, on furniture, under the stairs.  Since we are planning to work on the cabin this summer, the goal is to unpack as little as possible. My hope is that after consigning a lot of stuff to deep storage, I'll be able to let go of it once and for all next Fall. It's a pretty thought, anyway. We have so much stuff it's making the cabin feel smaller than it did this summer.

Today was my first day solo in the cabin with the kids and without a car. It went pretty well for all of us. Forest was excited about his new paints and about being reunited with his playdough, so he never even mentioned going outside. Walker got a huge kick out of my fly killing sprees. (Sad to say, we have a fly problem.

) And with all the unpacking, it's just as well we couldn't get to the grocery store. No ingredients means no cooking, which is a real time-saver.

I am new to heating with wood, but it seems we are going through wood awfully fast. It is tough to burn less when the thermometer in the kitchen reads 58 and the one in the bathroom reads 42.  Thank goodness the kids don't seem to be bothered by the cold, and I only notice it when I sit for any length of time, i.e., mealtimes. Of course I'm sitting now when everyone is asleep and I have a moment to write, but, happily, the desk is right by the stove, so I am quite warm. I know from the thermometer next to me that it is 65 degrees over here and with the way I am dressed (two sweaters, leg warmers) that feels downright balmy. I just hope I'm not downright balmy for moving here.

Monday, December 27, 2010


So, after considering all manner of second car options, Aaron and I decided to go with Plan A: buy a used Subaru Outback or Forester.  Both have very high clearance and four-wheel drive.  After finally making a decision, we learned 'tisn't the season to buy a used car. But after reuniting for Christmas--we were apart more than four weeks--we decided not to part again, second car be damned.  After an easy drive yesterday, we arrived before the snow, as the sun was setting.  It was 25 degrees in the cabin.  When we went to bed 2-and-a-half hours later, it was in the 40s.  Changing Forest for bed, I was startled to see his bottom steaming.  He is too young for me to make jokes about him having smoking buns, but that is what it looked like, literally.  Brrr!

If we'd stayed in New York, we would have woken to twice as much snow as we did here.  But if we'd stayed in New York, I wouldn't have enjoyed this sight:
This is Aaron with the David Bradley walk behind tractor plowing our driveway.

Walker's crying.  More soon.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Living in limbo

As feared, our stay here at my parents is turning out to be the extended re-mix 12" version, not the 45. The hold up is needing a second vehicle. If I go to Maine without one, the kids and I will be pretty much stuck at the cabin whenever Aaron goes to work, i.e., for 10 hours a day, five days a week. Yes, we can take walks in the woods. Yes, we have two neighbors we could visit. But that would be it. No food shopping, no library, no errands. As much as I miss Aaron, that scenario that puts me in mind of The Shining. Meanwhile, a car (or truck?) purchase is not something to rush into. There are many variables to examine and ponder--and that bump up against each other. Forest's vote is for a purple car.  Aaron and I are flexible on color.  We just want something that can handle our road and that is reliable, oh yeah, and that we can afford.  Thoughts?  Advice?