The cold Arctic weather moved in as a permanent resident so we didn’t have a choice — we made the best of a very cold Winter.
We’ve spent as much time indoors as possible because single-digit temperatures are too cold to enjoy. Here in the Shenandoah Valley, we’ve had a crazy mix of sleet, ice, and snow for most of the Winter season.
For some, snow means nothing more than having fun.
There’s something to be said about snow and how children and dogs make the very best of a day with snow. But the school kids have been home so many days that they’ll be finishing the school year in July.
Around here, it’s been a White Winter — an Arctic Winter, of sorts. We’ve seen beautiful blue sky days where the snowy white pastures and snow-covered trees gave us reason to pause at the beauty around us. And we’ve seen the treacherous days where the ice storms have given us glass to walk upon when doing chores. Two weeks ago, we had a snow storm with 10 inches of snow and no electricity for about 4 hours. Snow is pretty, but we’re anxious for some warmer weather.
So we’ve been making the best of a cold winter, despite the extra work involved with all of the snow or ice-coverings. In addition to the plowing and shoveling, we have had many extra trips to check on all the animals. Dressing for the chores this Winter has meant taking more time to dress in layers to stay warm, too. And the wet boots, gloves, and outerwear means they all need to be warmed up and dried by the fire for the next trip outside.
At this point, these routines have become more frequent and have normalized. This Arctic Winter has been filled with extra trips outside to check on the goats, rabbits, and chickens. Chipping frozen ice out of their water buckets and bowls is carried out a few more times each day. All of the critters enjoy the warm water I carry to them and they all gather around as I pour their fresh water, each taking a turn to sip.
The extended cold weather has meant extra work to keep the house warm, too. We’ve burned through 4 cords of wood already. The faithful wood stove has had quite the workout this season and we are so grateful for the warmth it provides. There is nothing like the comfortable, honest warmth a roaring fire brings to the soul.
With all of the Arctic Winter weather conditions, I’ve been mostly home bound. I’ve had ample time to sew, mend, organize, cook, and read. I have stayed close to the fire when I’m able to, so I’ve stayed warm. And the deep cold of the Winter season has provided the necessary quiet time to grieve the loss of my son. Staying busy and focused has helped tremendously, as has the loving support of my family and my best friend and Mother, also struggling with her own grief and loss of her grandson. We cry, we talk, we remember — and we push ourselves onward, trying to get by and get on, even with this very cold Winter.
One household project I needed to tackle was my very messy sewing and craft room. It took many, many hours to to re-organize and deeply clean this room — and it’s done. I added in a few small storage cabinets to hold scrapbooking and card-making supplies and papers. And I reorganized my fabrics so that my rug hooking wools now have a few shelves, instead of being folded into spare baskets. The sewing and craft room has become a favorite place for my granddaughter — she loves to create!
And since I also love to create, I’ve been busy sewing. Several new pillows have been crafted from cotton patchwork, a few home-made cotton pillowcases have been stitched, and some new white cotton dresser drawer liners were sewn. Everything was made with fabrics on hand (I have quite the cotton fabric stash, trust me!).
I am still making patchwork blocks from my late son’s cotton shirts. And now that I have more than a dozen patchwork blocks for the quilt, I am able to envision how the quilt top will be assembled and how I’ll sew the borders. I am planning an applique vine with leaves.
A small memory wallhanging from these same shirts was made for my late son’s best friend, Tom, who is struggling hard with loss and grief. The wallhanging was made with the same patchwork block.
There is no outdoor gardening yet. The ground is still frozen. And the greenhouse remains closed due to the Arctic Winter here. So at this point, a shelf in our dining room gives us some much-needed greenery. I have started flats of seedlings, including some pepper and tomato seeds that I started early, hoping for an early yield. This week, I will seed more flats but they will be started in the house where it is much warmer than the greenhouse is right now.
I hope the weather warms so we can open the greenhouse and get the water up and running. We are looking forward to the 2014 garden and Spring.