Roads are up here can be treacherous after snow. The other day, I drove down valley for Christmas shopping. The trip usually takes me one and quarter hours (one way), but since I had to drive 30 miles an hour on the icy roads, it took me two and a half just to get down there. My shoulders spasmed after I was done at the end of the day from gripping the steering wheel so hard.
Animal chores are easier in many ways now that I don't have to milk goats twice a day or hike out to the pasture to feed the pigs. But the snow and cold weather make things harder: buckets of warm water have to be hauled out to the goat shed and duck tractor, because the water in the standpipe is frozen.
The ducks don't get slowed down by the snow. They keep happily waddling around the yard, companionably visiting with the neighbor ducks across the fence, burying their bills in the snow to search for treats.
The chickens, though? They are grumpy, because they don't like to get their feet wet in the cold stuff. When I collected eggs this morning, one of the chickens refused to move off the nesting box. I had to wiggle my hand underneath her feathered butt to gather the warm eggs, while the hen gave me dirty looks as if to say, “C'mon, lady, can I have some privacy here?”
You know how sane people like to be warm in this weather, inside of houses and in front of wood stoves and such? Well, not my husband and sons. They decided to have a boys-only adventure with the canoe on the Skagit River, just as the snow storm moved in. The day they left, Eva and I went for a walk in the rare sunshine, and I worried about my guys being cold out there. Eva and I couldn't wait to get back inside after an hour to warm our freezing hands and noses. That night, it started snowing. I fretted about my adventurers, freezing in their tent. At least snow insulates, I thought. When I picked them up at the boat launch the next morning, I found out they hadn't even used their tent! No, no, tents are for wimps. They had built a lean-to shelter out of twigs, branches and evergreen boughs. Their fire, started with a bow drill friction technique, kept them from freezing. They loved every minute of it. I just rolled my eyes and listened to their stories.
But, really? I am proud of them. I am so happy that Steve gives our boys this opportunity of learning how to be resourceful and how to live in tune with nature, even if conditions aren't ideal. We both recognize that many boys in our society don't get their innate needs met. I think that deep down in their bones, men and boys yearn for these types of adventures and struggles to prove themselves, to somehow get initiated into manhood by ancient rituals, that these types of experiences lay dormant in their cellular memories.
I am happy that Steve is giving these opportunities to my young sons, because frankly, I'm not as burly as they are. I take them on backpacking trips into the wilderness, or kick-ass bike rides up mountain passes, but I do like my comfort, like warmth at night, food in my belly, and preferably 85% chocolate at my beck and call.
One more thing: Last week, a woman came to our homestead to interview us for the North Cascades Institute. She wrote a beautiful article about life in the Upper Skagit, and we were highlighted as a family. It's a great story with sweet pictures, and you can read it HERE.
Merry Christmas, and may your holidays filled with lots of love, light and laughter!
|Sunset at the Skagit River before it snowed|
|Sunrise at our house the other day|