Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Cold

Wind can press the cold deeper into your clothing, like relentless icy fingers seeking out the warmth within. Cold and heat are forces in a tug-of-war. We see it in the global weather: Polar vortex winds have created unusually cold weather patterns across the USA. We see the tug-of-war in our garage that we use as a cold cellar (since we have not built a proper root cellar) in the effort to keep that unheated space above the deep freeze temperatures outside. And for sure we see the tug-of-war in our hearts, between the icy cold of selfishness, and the warmth of graciousness, love and self-sacrifice.

So, what is a garden lover to do when conditions are cold and environmentally hostile in our part of the north? Since we have over 2 feet of snow on the level, there is no working with the soil. I am glad about the snow though, as it is a blanket against the very cold sub zero temps we have experienced. So, back to my question, what is a garden lover to do? If you can't fight it, embrace it!

We have enjoyed wilderness winter camping, with low temps of 9 F and wind chill of -10 F. At the time I wondered about our sanity in this endeavor. But after several weeks of preparation, we spent 3 days (two nights) out in the wilderness -winter camping.

We quickly decided we needed to improve on the items packed in for this weekend. The list congealed into three categories:

1) The things we brought that we were glad we had
2) The things we brought that we never used (ugg! for we had to pack them in and out)
3) The things we dearly wish we had brought

Surprisingly, I filled an entire page with items in these three categories. Here is a small sample of my lists:

1) The things we brought that we were glad we had:

2) The things we brought that we never used... Well this was a long list. We brought a lot of food, and a lot of clothes, most of both were never touched. We also brought some equipment that was not used, partly because we did not know the exact situation we would find ourselves in, and partly because we are new at winter camping.

3) The things we dearly wish we had brought:
  • more reliable fire starting tools (two items failed one after the other at the same meal)
  • headlamp (it is really hard to work at fixing a meal in the dark while one hand is occupied holding a flash light. And in the winter, it is dark a lot more than in summer.)
  • emergency whistle
  • snow shoes (I want to make some! I now have the appreciation that snow shoes are not optional for winter camping in 2-3 foot snow.)

The experience was a good one. We enjoyed the challenge, and had fun in the snow as well. The second night was not as windy, and we had 6" of new fluffy snow when we woke up. I am still in recovery mode from our 10 mile hike one of the days...Whew.

Hopefully the icy fingers of winter will soon start to loosen its death grip, and drip by drip the snow should start to melt. It will be a real joy to see the first crocus this spring.

Consider the tug-of-war in your heart, and share some warmth with others today.

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