Thursday, October 8, 2015

Bring on Winter

It’s raining! The pounding of the drops on the roof of our yurt is sometimes deafening! Living in a yurt keeps us close to the outside. The vinyl exterior protecting us from the elements allows us clear auditory access. Our wood fire keeps us toasty warm. In the winter, the challenge is everything else that makes it necessary for us to go outside.

When the rains come, slugs emerge! They pull their way up from underground. Slugs like moisture. Sometimes I frantically shake a fat one off my toothbrush wand, or cautiously avoid stepping on one as I walk.  I check my cup in the morning before I pour my coffee, and open up the towel hanging near the outside shower before I dry my face in the morning. Slugs appear anywhere!

Slugs are not my favourite creatures, although, over the years, they have unsuspectingly guided my transition to living in co-existence. I remember the first time I saw a slug. I was with my stepson, Josh. We joked about bar-b-quing them. They look pungent and meaty. I’m guessing someone, somewhere in the world must know how they taste!  I have never done it! I never will!

Cooking can be a bit a challenging when the wind blows and the air is wet and freezing. Sometimes I am pick pine needles out of our soup and dishes. Towels take forever to dry on their own, and the small ponds that accumulate around the kitchen platform can sometimes get quite deep.

The ground is very dry from this year’s lack of rain. With my hot pink gumboots I can go anywhere when it rains, as long as the ‘pools’ don’t reach my knees. Sometimes it comes pretty close. The interesting thing is, though, by the time the rain stops, the ground has absorbed the puddles. The earth is endlessly thirsty.

Above, the maple leaves are golden with patches of orange and green as they flutter gently and rhythmically to the ground. I sit and watch. Tenderly the trees release their tired babies to create a blanket on the ground. The gaps left behind opens up to sparkles of sunlight streaming through. Nature gently implies the change that is coming! Maple leaves surround the circumference of the outside of the yurt. We gather them to make a blanket for our flowers.

We’ve eaten the last lettuce from the garden. Soon, all the gardens will be put to bed. Layers of leaves, horse manure, seaweed and fresh compost that we’ve created over the summer months blanket the gardens before the frost comes. Today I planted 56 cloves of garlic. Our greenhouse is ready. For the first time we will be experimenting with seedlings and winter growth.

Mice find their way to warmth as the weather changes. Somehow they have discovered the blanket that sits at the bottom of our composting toilet. We finally discovered how they get in, and have fixed the situation with steel wool around the inside lid. I haven’t seen a mouse in a long time, but my previous experiences keep me aware! I keep a stick next to the toilet and I rattle the pail before I sit.

Most of the time I am in awe knowing that I live in such a gorgeous place. I never tire of the spectacular views that surround me. Deer wandering through the woods sometimes find themselves on the roads. I drive past them slowly. Sometimes I roll down my window and speak softly to them as they group their family together finding food and comfortable shelter. Seeing deer as I drive softens my day!

The process of collecting, washing and storing our outside artwork is underway. The Tibetan prayer flags are removed from the trees and the oyster shell garden receives a complete cleanse. Every one of the shells gets washed and dried. It takes me a week to complete, and every year I wonder,  “Why am I doing this”? And then I remember…it is my meditation for the fall clean-up. I persevere. All the vases and ceramic pots get put in sheds or filled with inside plants. Soon we’ll be hanging tarps around the outdoor kitchen to ward off the winds and rain while we cook, and also around the outside shower to make sure the winds don’t blow the stream of water from the spout anywhere else but on our selves.

When the temperature drops below 10o the refrigerator gets placed back inside the little cabin. It’s so convenient outside, just steps away from our outdoor kitchen, which includes a double stainless steel sink, cabinets and our main source of cooking - a barbeque with an side burner. But, the fact is, we have to protect the fridge from the freezing elements. This is our second fridge in 10 years. We want it to last, at least until we move in to our new beautiful house next summer.

Living outside is definitely an adventure I love. And, it’s also exciting to know that this is our last winter without walls. By this time next year we will be settled into our new house. The progress is slow and solid, and we have a new home that we will love and  appreciate. It will be warm and welcoming! For now, though…bring on the winter!