For your viewing pleasure, the finest flakes lay down to bed one January morning. Just before they land a sauntering winter sun catches hold of them, and thus the glitter. Meanwhile the usual crows are in the trees and the fire is crack-a-lacking.
It is 1.4 °F out there, and though I don’t want to worry you dear reader I must report that our water pipes have frozen for the second night in a row. We should have know better than to put the water system in the uninsulated sun room. Do not fret, or judge us too harshly. The pex pipes will thaw with all this sun in just a moment. This very day, we will temporarily fix the issue with the clever use of clear construction plastic. In the future, we will build a wall to insulate the water system, effectively divorcing it from the fickle nature of sun room living. The water system will thus become part of the very house from which I write, where it never-ever freezes. Even if each resident here would choose to be away for the coldest month of the year, this house will not, would not, drop below the steady temperature of the earth by which it is buried in the north and west.
All of this is to say that we have our fail moments as do-it-yourself home builders and novice homesteaders. Most likely if we were transported back in time as ourselves to be pioneers in the early days of colonialist settlement or members of the Cayuga nation, we would not make it through December. However no such machine has been invented yet, and it is 2013 so we will not freeze. In fact, it is so summery in here that I am often reminded of when Melville’s Ishmael spoke to us of being too warm as being “one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich.” This raises many good questions here on this efficient homestead built on as little money as possible, by six folks who are not by popular American standards considered rich at all. This raises good questions to any reader of any situation. Please find the rest of that wonderful passage from Moby Dick pasted below.
from Moby Dick
“We felt very nice and snug, the more so since it was so chilly out of doors; indeed out of bed-clothes too, seeing that there was no fire in the room. The more so, I say, because truly to enjoy bodily warmth, some small part of you must be cold, for there is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself. If you flatter yourself that you are all over comfortable, and have been so a long time, then you cannot be said to be comfortable any more. But if the tip of your nose or the crown of your head be slightly chilled, why then, indeed, in the general consciousness you feel delightfully and unmistakably warm. For this reason a sleeping apartment should never be furnished with a fire, which is one of the luxurious discomforts of the rich. For the height of this sort of deliciousness is to have nothing but the blanket between you and your snugness and the cold of the outer air. Then there you lie like the one warm spark in the heart of an arctic crystal.”
Also- a book to make you feel warmer during any winter is Ursula Le Guin’s sci-fi masterpiece Left Hand of Darkness. The unusual beings on that planet are so cold that even Ishmael would wish for a heated resting chamber without much pondering the ill-effects of being too rich and too warm.
Winter Reading Survey – I leave you with this question, which I encourage you to reply to by commenting on this post?. What reading have you enjoyed this winter, or specifically for winter during any other winter?
– Lea LSF