We had been having a very mild winter with the exception of brief visits by the polar vortex. It was so mild that winter break seemed more like fall break – the landscape was brown and dull, bare trees and drying grasses. My kids’ schools were only out once or twice due to weather and my own school had no snow days at all. We watched with fascination as Boston was pummeled by winter storms and ‘thanked our lucky stars’ that we’d escaped winter. Not strong believers in the prognostication power of groundhogs we pooh-poohed Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction of another six weeks of winter. Seed catalogs were arriving daily and we were pretty sure that spring was just around the corner.
So when I bid the students goodbye on Valentine’s eve and told them I’d see them after the weekend, I didn’t expect there to be a week of snow days plus two sets of weekends before I saw them again! Apparently winter was only delayed, not cancelled!
Mind you, I like winter in general. I find it easier to keep warm in the cold than cool off in the heat, it’s pretty and nicely delineates the year, providing a clean, icy break between green seasons.
But winter in a ramshackle rural setting definitely adds to the challenges. We’ve been out of water for some weeks already – a bit of a hassle to haul jugs of water, heat water for washing dishes and flush manually by pouring into the toilet bowl from two gallon jugs at the same time – but nothing we can’t handle. Add wind chills in the double digits below zero, snow that defies 4-wheel drive and frozen septic pipes and winter becomes significantly more of a headache.
Granted it is easier to haul water bottles on a sled over snow but the septic issue is really annoying! The house has begun to take on a “eau de porta potty” smell and we have to make sure that the water we use (to wash dishes for example) is tossed out of the back door rather than disposed of down the sink. Any water added to the system will eventually back up in the tubs and we’ll have fetid pools of disgusting liquid. I don’t know of any answer to this issue other than a thaw! Unfortunately it looks like we’ll continue with below freezing temperatures for the next week.