Sunday afternoon we had a great moment of success. Zach toiled about in the generator room tinkering with a new tip from the owners. This round, he used a propane tank with a heating element. The thought was that during our cold stint, the generator might need thawing. After finishing up dishes from lunch, I walk out to find him tented under a tarp slowly rotating the heating element around the engine. It appears to be working, as small drops of condensation form from the frost encapsulating the metal piping. I hold up the tarp while he keeps at it, until he eventually decides the time has come.
We pull the tarp, double-check the battery is correctly attached, check liquid levels for good measure, and Zach flips the switch. We stare at one another, waiting, as the generator gives a few yawning groans. It grunts a few more times, and then lurches, rumbling and chugging into life.
We high-five and I gleefully congratulate Zach on his persistence on the pursuance of life. Frankenstein has given warmth and breath to his monster. The lifeline is back.
It has begun to get dark around 4:30 in the afternoon now, and with both generators down, we did not want to use excess power to turn on lights. We have been using a camp lantern and headlamps for the past week, but this night we spend lavished in light, and the illumination is quite the treat. We take much of the night to do our laundry, eat cookies, and play too many redemption rounds of our favorite game into the late hours.
Monday and Tuesday pass gently into the quiet with not much to tell. The holidays are coming and we spend a fair amount of time crafting small gifts for our families. Zach learns more music theory: the circle of fifths. I write in the afternoons, and in the evenings I adventure inside a couple Ursula Le Guin novels, enjoying the heat from the stove with Dolly until we both fall asleep snoring.
Wednesday it snows, lightly at first, and then in heavy dollops for a short time. As we watch our little world refresh itself from the windows, we begin to feel restless and decide we need to get outside for a bit. As soon as the snow stops we bundle up and head out for a few rounds of Frisbee with Ruff. Dolly trots about, marking all that is now new again as her own, one drop at a time.
(“Did someone say Frisbee???”)
(“Don’t worry Ma! All the trees still smell like me!”)
I make a few snow angels, and play tug of war with Ruff. This afternoon is a glimpse back into childhood play. We wrestle and roll, throw snowballs, and play with the dogs without a concern for anything, we simply enjoy the moments in their greatest capacity. Our filled cups pour over into the evening, when we return to our warm fire, wiggling our fingers, and drying out our socks. I mention to Zach that the day did not even seem that cold. He checks the temp, the high was 28 degrees.
Thursday we ate a breakfast of sourdough pancakes. We can’t believe how delicious they are. We make our trek to the bear pile. Even in the depth of December, no poor wild soul has been hungry enough to attempt the goop which I had once tried to pass as breakfast. It lies there still, now a frozen brick. We laugh ourselves back to camp.
Once back, we work on our snow chores, cleaning up the inches of snow we gained the day before from the staircases, eves, and roofs of the buildings. Of course, we find time to play with the dogs, as always.
Zach comes in chuckling from taking the dogs for their final pee of the night. The night is overcast and dark as charcoal. While waiting for Ruff to finish sniffing his last tree, Zach hears a deep and urgent rumble in the dampened silence. He is instantaneously spooked, it sounds like the thunder of many hooves rampaging in the night. His breath is short, but the moment is fleeting. He realizes there is no midnight stampede, but a large mass of snow has cascaded from the tall branches of the trees, collecting more mass on the way down, and thundering to the earth. It’s easy to spook in the dark of the forest, and wonderful to laugh at the silly moments of fear. Especially when the culprit is only a bit of snow.
Ruff is disgruntled through all hours of the night. The recent accumulation of just a few inches, our clearing of the eves, and a bit of warmth has separated much of the snow from the roofs. From our bed we hear large chunks of ice and snow uproot from the spine of the roof to bellow and bang as they cascade down in the otherwise soundless night. At each booming dislodge of snow, Ruff barks against the obvious intruder trying to rally his beloved family from their sleepy stupor, who in return will only rudely grumble at him to calm down and go back to bed. At this, he quietly whines about the injustice of it all.
Friday brings a beautiful day and we feel alive and invigorated by the clear sky. We decide again to make our trek to Stratton Creek Trail.
(Ruff wishes not to be left behind)
Our adventurous hearts are not held back at any unexpected turn of events (though this time we were prepared with rope, duct tape, and zip ties!). We find ourselves traipsing along, having lost the trail, but finding great satisfaction in the sunshine and the view of the river cutting clean through the landscape. We stand at the edge of the river for a moment and absorb the expected solitude, but the air holds much more than simple silence for us.
The river giggles and scats a jazz tune as it plays along it’s path. The water plays the marimba of ice that has formed along it’s banks. It sounds like a funky freestyle bass line, of which only the river could ever know. We stand still to listen further, and notice the drumming xylophone percussion of snow falling through the limbs of the cold tree branches. The forest is alive with a symphony, and as the only ones in attendance we stand in awe of Nature’s groove. After we take our fill, we give a standing ovation, eat a snack, and roam about to take some pictures. We hike back as the day makes a turn for the cold.
Zach makes a small batch of homemade pork and beans. We go out to check the water source and clear any potential diversion or blockages caused by ice build up. It’s beginning to get dark, so we make haste to beat the nightfall. Right before we begin our upwards trek, it begins to snow again, and as always, we laugh. The one thing we never-ever forget to bring is a good sense of humor.
Saturday our favorite guests come to visit and stay for a short while. We eat slices of homemade cornbread with honey. We finish our holiday present projects for our family, and have a quiet night.
This week the living was easy and quiet. We discovered much in the sounds found in silence.
Ta ta for now,
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