oh unromantic winter

December has been unseasonably, almost disturbingly mild this year. There have been a handful of cold days and colder nights (as well as a day of hail), but for the most part it’s been days of gray and nights of light frost. I haven’t even started wearing a second layer of pants. Yet this winter feels harder than any other Bauwagen winter that’s come before it.

I don’t miss dial heat. When I sleep in apartments and houses, I am struck by how dry the air is and tend to wake with cotton throat and mouth. I like chopping wood, starting fires, and listening to the crackling of the wood stove. It can be inconvenient—say, when you want to be gone for more than three or four hours but come back to a warm abode or get home late and would much rather fall into bed then spend an hour getting the fire roaring—but there is something comforting and beautiful about the whole process that makes the pros worth all the cons I could come up with.

But I should amend the first sentence of that last paragraph—I don’t miss dial heat until I am sick, especially if I am sick when the Beard is away or has to work a lot. Then I sometimes think, Well wouldn’t it be nice to just lay in a consistently warm room that remains consistently warm without any effort from me?! Especially now that pregnancy has temporarily rendered me pretty useless, physically. (All women who go through this alone get superhero status in my eyes. Especially those who live in any way off-grid.)

This morning I was feeling a little resentful toward the wood stove as I was stuffing it with newspaper and kindling. When I’m sick I want nothing more than to lay in bed all day being brought tea and snacks. I don’t want to have to put on a jacket and go outside, let alone carry or chop firewood. But this morning I stopped myself mid-grumble and examined my logic. There is no reason why heating my home should involve zero effort. The dial heating involves effort too, but from a lot of people that I simply never have to see at work. And there is no reason to think that somehow carrying some wood, chopping some wood, and leaving the windows open for twenty minutes while I get things started (our wood stove tends to smoke a bit while you’re getting it lit) is going to make me sicker. Sure, it’s incredibly unpleasant when I’ve got an achy sickness or can’t do much besides lay in bed and moan, but still. It’s not going to kill me, so I might as well stop feeling resentful about it. As soon as I thought it I felt a lot more cheerful about lighting the morning’s fire.

Meanwhile, I’m sure things will stop feeling so hard once I’m healthy again. (And being done with pregnancy and recovered from the birth is going to help a lot too, but by then spring will be starting to poke a toe through the door.) My lack of energy and a wood pile that, in my estimation, is dwindling far too quickly have kept me out of trash house (aka the kitchen Wagen aka my Wagen, crap I need to pick a name for it and stick with it) for the last couple of weeks. The thought of having to light and tend two wood stoves has been too overwhelming. And what if we run out of wood!?!!! (You can never have too much fire wood or dried food, I say. But I am a hoarder like that. If we run out of wood we’ll just buy some off of a Platz-mate with fire wood to spare. Yet for some reason, I still feel worried when I look in the wood shed.) I miss spending time in my own little space, but I suppose avoiding it isn’t so bad either: after all, all that’s waiting for me in there right now are unwashed dishes and baby-paraphernalia chaos.

And there you have it. In hopes of providing a balanced picture of the ups and downs of living in a tiny dwelling in an intentional community, a not-so-romantic perspective on winter-time life.

0 Comments on “oh unromantic winter

  1. Just doing a quick Mrs Gorilla Lady blog catchup after a few days off the interwebs. Being ill is rubbish; being ill whilst pregnant is extra rubbish; wow, being ill whilst pregnant and having to build your own fire sounds shit. I totally admire your attitude: you rock, Mrs Gorilla Lady. And you deserve to be better: I send mega get well wishes across the river and hope get your singing voice back pronto 🙂

    p.s. Love that photo of you in the dress, you look gorgeous; another huge vote for the Moomins from me; and I’m REALLY struggling with Disney princesses with one of the little girls I visit. When she asks me to draw them for her, I always make them at least a UK size 14 🙂

  2. Aww thanks, for the get well wishes and the dress compliments. Your get well wishes from across the river may actually be working…fingers crossed.

    I felt kind of whiny writing this, but kept reminding myself that I should provide some of the unrosy moments of life here as well so as not to make my blog into some sort of overly positive advertisement or something.

  3. My husband says that life and life lessons don’t always feel good even if they do good. I mostly agree, though as a very impatient person I’m often grinding my teeth…

    I like to hear about both the roses and the thorns, and hope you’re getting rid of the flu for your Heidelberg show tomorrow, with the sauna and all.

  4. Sara: Yes, good point, good point. I think about that sometimes too when I’m particularly frustrated. So far so good with my voice getting better. It’s not perfect, but it can hold a tune again.

  5. Just to prepare you of what’s ahead: when the baby has arrived you will feel tired (well, exhausted is a better word) for months, if not for years. I’m not so sure things will stop feeling so hard… 😉

  6. Wow you’re half a world away and its warm there to? I was kind of wondering if it was like that everywhere. We too have been unseasonably warm. Which is kind of sad in two ways. One it looks like its going to be a brown Christmas. I kind of boycott Christmas as much as I can so far as gifts go, but love the family and friends. It doesn’t feel like Christmas when you can see the stubble poking out in all the fields. By October last year we had well over a foot of snow. The second reason it soft of sucks is that generally in the winter usually when its -10 its like a heat wave and you feel like you can (and do) run out side in a T-shirt and think WOW its SOOOO warm out… but when its been sticking to the -10 to -15 range it always kind of always blah and gloomy.

    Still hoping you get well

    Cheers and all the best from the Great White North!

  7. I totally have moments where I fantasize about a consistently temperatured dwelling in which dishes only take a few minutes to do and baths can be had anytime and it would be next to a library…

    I hope you feel better by now. Thanks for sharing so much.

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