I notice how very warm I am in bed, inside the fabric yurt, even when early January temperatures outside have dipped to -11° F, down to -28° F with windchill.  Until I step out of bed into the 42° F dark morning air.  Brr.

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These are the times this little yurt has a difficult time separating itself from the elements, even with Josh stoking the fire through the night.  We huddle as close to the fire as we can, still seeing our breath even standing a foot away.  Caden understandably resists getting his clothes on for school.  I bundle Aria up in a nest of warmth.  And then we decide this is the perfect morning to turn the oven self-cleaner on…  Something that usually way overheats us in this space.

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Caden and Aria wonder how old Jackie Frost gets INside the yurt, drawing on the inside of the windows.  Aria decides he must have stood on the tip top of her growing amaryllis to reach the dome.


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How quickly this cold snap came on.  Just days ago, some of us were still showering outside…  Not exactly the same feeling as it is under hot summer sun, but still manageable under a steady stream of warm water from the hand-pump pressurized shower we use.

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Extreme Shower for use with any gas or propane stove |

The last time I used the outdoor shower “facilities” was Christmas Eve.  I was just about to start the Zodi when I heard a car pulling down the drive.  The drive that is feet away from the shower stall…  I yelled to Josh (thank you thin fabric yurt walls) and he came out to greet a neighbor we hadn’t seen in a while, one who came up to give us mis-boxed mail.  As usually happens, he didn’t just hop back in his car and head on.  He was asking Josh all about this giant round wooden structure that had sprung up here since the last time he’d been by.  But meanwhile… I’m more than a little chilly in the shower stall, my warm water is becoming decreasingly so by the second, so I just start the very squeaky pump to pressurize the water, and shower away.  I can’t hear much over the shower, but it’s clear our neighbor is asking what the sound and cloud of steam is over there…  Wasn’t I just saying how normal this all feels now?

That was the last outside hurrah for me for the next several months, and in to fireside baths as the children have been for a while now.

I like to make a bath-time blanket wall for a pseudo zen quiet me-time moment.

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It doesn’t tend to work so well.  Because I’ve made a blanket wall.  Which to any person under the age of 12 equals “fort.”

Even though we were running around with light rain jackets on Christmas Day, many of the gifts we made each other were premonitions of these chill hibernating days ahead.  Perhaps because this is our third winter in this fabric yurt and something deep inside us remembers that deep cold is coming.  Flannel pajamas, “momma made” wool mittens, “daddy knit” socks and leg-warmers…

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With previous gifts of knit hat and neck warmer, combined with a fairy dress, one can be ready for just about anything outside.

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Including getting to skate on the pond for the first time, the very first time up on skates on her own for the littest…

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It might not be much larger than a big puddle, and slightly treacherous being rock lined, but still hours of fun. Along with this new creation from the artesian water overflow that feeds the pond:

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What the children have dubbed the “ice cave” and find so special they bravely guard it with sticks and a stash of hurling balls.  You’ve been warned.

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But no ice skating or ice cave defending on these negative degree days.  Days when the wind whips so hard it blows open the heavy wooden front door of the wooden yurt, a door so heavy our youngest can’t even budge it.

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These days are better suited to the bed-stage dancing and acrobatics shows.

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Times when nighttime bed layers are so thick that one might think I was doing a reverse Princess and the Pea test using blankets, with my nightly rounds of guarding against King Winter by piling more quilts, sheepskin woolies, sleeping bags… and tucking any escapees back in…

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Which might explain this…

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We’re also warming within with the latest sourdough creations.  After one right-into-the-compost brick, we’ve had some quite yummy disappearing pizzas and breads.  Sometimes so quick that you only get the before picture…

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And tea.  How we all love warm tea.

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And not all of the wood is warming us via the woodstove. Some of Josh’s creations do so in other ways.

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As does the new cutting board made by how-did-we-ever-get-so-lucky-to-have-them-in-our-lives friends.

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I do not like when it gets this cold.  But I do like winter, and can’t imagine one without the other.  This time to think about where we’ve come, and where we’d like to head.  We pick words of the coming year (balance, reframe, fun, sun), and make 2015 vision boards (where I learned that Caden is intent on seeing a mountain lion, coyotes, AND eating pie).

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A time to write, to read, even if by headlamp in the dark morning hours when not all are awake.

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Now where is my sweater…  Be warm!


5 thoughts on “Brr

  1. Mel,
    Always enjoy your stories! The seeing your breath, the round metal tub, the crowding around the woodstove to get dressed all remind me of my own childhood. Loved the shower part. We didn’t have that upgrade!

    • Hi Butch it is Linda next door. I grew up going to my grandmothers. Only cold running water. No bathroom. Plumbing drained to a ditch out back that drained into the outhouse. I played in that ditch and even made a bridge to walk across it. I remember shoveling my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Only #1 in the chamber pot! I was also lucky to be the eldest as the eldest was first to bathe in the large tub which you had to warm the water yourself on the coal stove, and my brothers followed in the same water which I find repulsive now but was perfectly normal back then. I have so many wonderful memories of visiting my grandmother & watching your children, Melanie, brings back so many of my childhood too. I enjoy your narrative, Melanie!

  2. My teeth are chattering as I read; however I am warmed by your words, wonder and antics portrayed through the pictures.

    Not be competitive or get into a mine vs. yours but you know I am here not because I hate winter and the cold it brings. I’m here because I don’t tolerate the cold like I used to. That’s why it’s hard not to tell you that I am looking forward tomorrow and the expected 68 degree day. Today wasn’t bad either……62. I had a pleasant ride on my new bike which I like very much. Looking east, I watched the rays of a beautiful sunset illumine a ship riding the ocean horizon and felt warm.

    I will be looking at the creative and fun ways you all adapt to winter. The little point looks like a mirror with Aria and Caden skating on themselves. Viewing brings back skating memories of rink making in the back yard, skating on little ponds in the back field and the brooks nearby. Sometimes we went to the lakes but not very often.

    Winter hasn’t frozen your creativity….that’s for sure.

    Love to All


    Sent from my iPad


  3. Mel, I had no idea you were writing this blog and wonder how I’ve missed it all this time. I won’t anymore. It sounds wonderful and exciting, even in the cold weather. I am not fond of the bitter cold but will now remember you and Josh and the kids when I complain about it. I am glad to hear you make sourdough everything. I love sourdough and have fed my starter tonight to make bread tomorrow. I will look forward to your next post. Keep warm. Love Aunt Cindi

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