500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

To the end of winter


The snow is falling in clusters. It’s got into all the corners of the back porch, blown around by the wind to settle on my conscience – I should have put those tools away yesterday, but the job was left, rather than finished – the idea was trays on which to put the cans of seedlings in the windows – but my measurements were off and I was having a rethink. It’s the first in weeks that we’ve experienced any kind of weather other than biting cold, for which the consolation is day-long bright sunshine. Even though beautiful, it’s difficult to stay chipper when you’re constantly checking the thermometer to see if this year’s record of minus twenty five has been broken.

Every morning I take out a big plastic bottle of hot water and a bag of grain for the chickens to scratch for. The sheep and goat get an armful of golden hay – which was cut with a scythe during the growing season – they look around hopeful of a treat – some kitchen scraps or half an apple from the winter store.

This morning, George II, our ginger tom, accompanied me to the let out the animals – he likes to patrol for mice in the hen house. He delicately bounded through the snow – half a foot has fallen overnight and it’s light and fluffy. I managed to get the gates open without a shovel, but I know I’ll have to go back and dig it out later… just not now already. There is surely time to drink a coffee and reflect.

It was Valentine’s yesterday, and we’re two weeks away from being away from the UK for five years. Still, I’m being foreign rather than becoming foreign. The day we arrived, it was raining, and a month after warm weather arrived and stayed with us till late into the autumn. Now we know this was an oddity.

The phrase ‘see, it’s 13 degrees in here – it’s not cold” only makes sense in context. A context that consists of many layers. We have become observers of temperatures and read weather forecasts with religious dedication. It’s not life or death, however it could mean success or failure of our lifestyle. There is a balance to be struck between the amazing quality of life we enjoy during the rest of the year, for which I am profoundly grateful, with enduring the short months of living in dark and cold – which go hand in hand.

Though the snow has been with us for over a month this year – and could stay for another two – my reactions to it are still those of a Briton. I catch myself humming Christmas carols, and subconsciously I’m gladdened by the thought that school may be closed for the day. On a more practical note – the car is starting only intermittently, and the Internet, our lifeline to the outside world of paid work (we’re a long way from self-sufficient just yet) has packed up.

Today I can be mindful of the quiet. There is no Radio 4 – which is my normal backing track – constantly reinforcing my Britishness. Mike is working in his office upstairs, and by the sound of it, more successfully than yesterday – much of which was spent in battle with the multinational which supplies our web connection. We also have no volunteer visitors during the winter season. We discovered early on that while there is snow on the ground, there is little to be done. The garden and fields are completely hidden – giving us a break from the constant tending necessary during the growing season, and it’s too cold for natural plaster to dry or for any indoor job which needs fresh air. So, it’s somewhat frustrating for any visitors wanting to get on with big projects, though plenty enough for me alone – with uninterrupted stretches of time to concentrate. That said, I know that soon I will grow tired of the solitude and wish again for the influences, stories, problems and cheer that our visitors will bring.

posted under Elements

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