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Weathering the Storm

by Tara

All morning long, we've received text messages, phone calls, and emails of concern about the blizzard headed our way. While I'm sure there is dramatic, worrisome news all over the TV and radio announcing the impending "snowpocalypse," here in our corner of Vermont, all is quiet, and nobody we talk to seems particularly worried. As for me, I'm excited; I hope we'll get absolutely walloped. Bring it on!

For us, preparing for the storm is really no different than preparing for everyday life: the fridge and pantry are already full of food, the cans of gasoline for our generator are already full, and our propane tanks are already topped up. We've pumped plenty of water, but that's more for convenience than anything else—should we need it, our well is dependent on muscle-power only, and will work just fine, blizzard or no.

It is so immensely satisfying to know that here on our land, there's no electricity to go out, no powerlines to fall, no water supply to fail, no pipes to freeze. But if, for whatever reason, things go south, we can always build a fire with our bounty of wood, or retreat to our dear friends' house, only a short walk away. In other words, our quiet life goes on as normal, and we feel rich indeed to be secure and prepared for almost any eventuality.

It's midnight now. The snow we'd been expecting finally arrived in the late afternoon, blowing in from the west on fearsome gales that have been making our trees sway and creak. So far, we've only gotten a couple of inches, but I'm hoping things will pick up overnight. As the flakes fall in sheets outside, we're warm and cozy in our little camper, thanks to our trusty furnace pumping out heat.

Camper in a Snowstorm

Snuggled together under our down comforter, Tyler is re-reading The Good Life aloud to me. Though I love the story, I'm also shocked at how the Nearings were able to cram their twenty years of homesteading into such a small book. Each sentence could be teased apart into days and months and years, and I selfishly want to know what Helen and Scott were thinking and feeling throughout the whole process!

With the transaction completed, and the deed registered in the name of the new owners, we began to realize what a plunge we had made.

Helen & Scott Nearing, The Good Life

Ha, no kidding! Just that one understatement of a sentence encompasses years of their lives and a whole range of emotions! I think back to the excitement of when we bought our land, and how scared we were to take the plunge, and how, even though we fell in love with it, we had second thoughts. I'm so glad we journal about our life as it happens!

Tyler is done reading for now, and though we're both tired, he suggests we go on a midnight hike before we fall asleep. I don't really feel like extricating myself from the covers, but I know I'll love it once we're out there. So, I agree, and I bundle up like crazy, donning my snow pants, my favorite Muck Boots, and a warm woolen scarf. Heading outdoors, with the snow flying all around us, we're perfectly warm.

First, we walk to our pond, crunching through the snow by the light of our headlamps. Above us, the trees form a surreal, skeletal canopy, which groans and creaks like rattled bones. After padding for awhile on our little ice-rink, we head back to basecamp. There, Tyler suggests we get a fire going from the still-hot embers, left over from yesterday's burn pile. Sure enough, the fire master is able to get it going.

Tyler Starting a Fire in a Snowstorm Tyler by a Fire in a Snowstorm

Soon we're as cozy as can be, warming our hands by a cheerful crackling fire, watching snowflakes dance and hiss as they fall in the flames. We even bust out the marshmallows for a midnight snack! I remember times in my life when finding roasting sticks for hot dogs and marshmallows took quite a bit of hunting, and maybe even a bit of whittling. On our land, all I have to do is look down, and voila, there are twenty to choose from!

Us by a Fire in a Snowstorm Tara by a Fire in a Snowstorm

Out in the blizzard, the night is magical. Glittering sparks from the fire fly up into the vast darkness, as an army of snowflakes reign down in comically large gusts, as if from a snow-blower. My mouth is full of deliciously blackened marshmallow, and my adventuresome partner-in-life is by my side. Together, we're standing on our very own land, happily weathering the storm in the wee hours of the morning, making rich memories that will last a lifetime.

Us in a Snowstorm