while it lasted…

I’m not going to talk about the state of our road right now. Nor the yard. I’m not going to dwell on the oozing slush and the mud and the need for extreme caution with every single step. I’m also not going to discuss the state of our firewood pile. I’m just not going there.

Instead, I’m going to talk a little bit about this… IMGP2949 Wintertime in the mid-south is a roller coaster ride. There is really no consistent theme other than we will surely have a couple of really cold spells and maybe a few snows somewhere between November and April. The snowfall may not amount to much more than a dusting, but enough to turn these Kentucky hills sort of white. When we have a single snow event that accumulates to nearly a foot of the stuff, well, it is kind of a big deal.IMGP3021

I think I used to enjoy the winter months more than I do now. As I have grown older and my level of responsibility is so much more, the winter months can truly be a pain in the ass. With a house full of kiddos and a farm full of critters, there are many more mouths to feed and water now than there were when Eric and I were just getting started. I am grateful for all of those hungry mouths, don’t get me wrong, as it is proof of an abundant farm… but I have yet to find the “pause” button for all of those mouths when the weather takes a turn and the road is impassable and the water system freezes.  If you know what I mean.IMGP2941I know at some point or other all of us farmwives have mentioned that fact that our farms are not really set up for ease in dealing with extreme winter weather. We just don’t have enough of it to justify the effort in “winter-proofing” all of our farm systems. We have our ways of making things work just fine, but not without some effort. Seems we all have been caught with our pants down at some point, and curse ourselves for some stupid slip-up in preparedness. Or lack thereof.IMGP3010Typically, though, our winter weather leaves as quickly as it came, and we sigh and say “wasn’t that pretty?” and then grunt “now what a damn mess!” In the throes of the winter storm, when I could feel the beginnings of myself going buggy and my kids challenging my and each other’s patience, I decided to read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” aloud to the family… just as a reminder of how easy we’ve got it. And a gigantic reminder of why I don’t live in North Dakota. 

My dear husband’s solution to the cabin fever problem was to hitch the kayaks up to the tractor and take the kids for a redneck-style-white-water-rafting-tour-de-farm sled ride. They had a blast. (And Elowyn and I got the house to ourselves for a bit.) The morning the temperatures were going to rise enough to begin the thawing of all that snow, Eric swept into the house from doing his chores and demanded that I get my coat on. The big kids watched the baby and I got my own Bugtussle style sleigh ride…IMGP3029I will say the snow was fun while it lasted! Now I suppose I’m ready for spring!

11 3/4 inches: a family photo project

snowed in. nature’s power and beauty all around us. we spent the days cooking, baking, playing and trying, each of us, to capture some of the majesty.

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it’s been cold and cozy and it’s not over yet. photo credits to mrb and svb, they have the eye. a couple of these are mine too. why not guess who took which photos?

 

small roads

small roadThis corner of the world was such a small place when I was a child. Relatively, it still is I guess, but for those of us who have been watching for awhile, the growth seems tremendous. Most folks knew each other, and it wasn’t too hard, even if you happened to dial a wrong number, to figure out who you accidentally called instead and have a nice chat with them.

Likewise, there were no big roads. Not only were the roads small, they were usually winding, too. Guard rails were few and far between, and lots of curves were blind with a blasted stone face on one side and some kind of steep drop off on the other. When driving, we had to watch out for ourselves, and one another.

One thing that used to be common practice here was the steering-wheel-wave. As two cars approached each other on one of these two lane roads, the drivers acknowledged each other by lifting an index finger, or one hand, off the steering wheel. It was just an acknowledgment. I see you. We are sharing the road. Some of the old timers would out and out wave at cars going by, particularly if they seemed to be driven by friends or kin of theirs.

We used to laugh at it as teenagers. Those quaint, small town habits seemed silly in those years, but of course, we picked up the habit too. I nearly caused a couple of wrecks lifting index fingers at folks going by in metropolitan areas in other parts in the country. My fellow drivers didn’t seem to understand that my gesture was friendly.

As time has gone by, some of our roads have widened. The big highway going through the county east/west particularly. Because of this big road, what was a once a 45 minute drive from our little hamlet to the county seat now takes less than half an hour. It has led us to feel more connected to the places that once may have seemed a bit distant. There are up-sides and down-sides to that perception that I won’t tackle here. It has also increased the amount of big rig trucks on our roads, and it has decreased the amount that we acknowledge our fellow drivers.

It’s just harder to register the people in the car hurdling toward you at 55-60 (or more) miles per hour. You might have known who they were, but by the time you recognize them, they’re long gone. There’s more room to avoid each other, and less space to a acknowledge one another. More people have moved here from different places. Our population has grown. The old codes of conduct do not necessarily hold.

But they are not gone altogether.

I ventured out into town one day during the thick of the snow and ice that had us in its grip. The big road was clear, but the side and back roads were still veritably sheets of ice, even in town. And the steering-wheel wave had returned. People were looking out for each other. We had all slowed down, and we were all paying attention.

As cold as it was, and is again, now that four more inches of snow has graced us, I am warmed by this. For as much as civilization as a whole can sometimes look like a failing experiment, when I can meet the eye of my fellow traveler and exchange an understanding that we both deserve safe passage, I can still believe in community. And I’m grateful to live in this one.small roads 2