When I was a kid/teenager, growing up in a safe, quiet suburb, I loved adventure novels and movies, stories in which the hero/ine had to deal, not so much with evil people, but with the impartial force and majesty of nature. I loved the histories of South Polar expeditions, Robinson Crusoe and similar novels, and the writings of Jack London.
Then I became a hippie and moved to the country, jumping from a small Vermont college to a series of communes in the California foothills to The Farm in Tennessee, and life became an adventure novel. Vermont got this city kid out into the country, and acquainted me for the first time with weather that could kill me. California introduced me to horizons I could scan and find no trace of civilization, and my trajectory at The Farm provided me with a life close to the earth, marrying and raising a family while living in a series of school buses and 16′X32′ army surplus squad tents, far from the normal trappings of American culture. This was back when Tennessee had serious winters, folks. There would be snow on the ground for weeks, because the temperature would stay below freezing for weeks, and there was nothing between us and that weather but an inch of school bus roof or a fraction of an inch of canvas. When the ground wasn’t frozen, it was likely to be very muddy. We chopped lots of wood, hauled lots of water, had two home births in those school buses, and helped turn a couple of square miles of Tennessee back woods into a thriving community, as well.
In fact, the community thrived to the point that the adventure of life was no longer so much about surviving the weather as it was about growing the community. Our family moved into a real house, with wood floors and walls, insulation, and even running hot water and a shower! The roof no longer flapped in a strong wind, nor did a heavy rain storm drip from the ceiling, flood in through the door, or drown out conversation. That happened around 1975, and, for most of the nearly 40 years since then, my dwelling’s ability to withstand the elements has not been much of an issue.
That changed in the Spring of 2013, when we moved back to Rabbit Hole Hollow after the fire. During the summer, apart from the occasional rainstorm, it was no big deal. We did our eating and dish washing outside. During daylight hours, there was plenty of hot water for showers and kitchen cleanup from the two hundred feet of garden hose we ran up onto the roof of what remained of the house. As the days grew shorter, the availability of hot water diminished, but we didn’t really think much about winter. The last several winters had been ridiculously mild–we are in the early stages of global warming, after all–hey, some winter soon, it might not even frost! Ooh, the bugs will be really bad the summer after that happens! Read the rest of this entry »