Here in Wawawai, we usually have milder weather than the surrounding prairie land known as the Palouse Prairie, and the last few winters we have only had a few cold snaps interspersed with relatively mild winter weather — so much so that we were concerned about insect pests and associated diseases moving in from milder climates. Well, this winter will keep them at bay — we have close to a foot of snow, some places drifted much deeper, and it has hovered between zero and 10 degrees F. at night for over a week. I suspect that this cold will kill the fig trees back to the roots, so they will have to sprout out from the ground and probably won’t have a crop next year. We hope the grapes will fare better than figs, but that will be determined when we start pruning. My other “weird” plants such as the medlar and pawpaw trees and the Goumi berry bush will have to show what they can stand.
Because we heat with wood, there has been a lot of hand-to-mouth provisioning, including cutting from our “wood lot” along Wawawai creek, followed by splitting (when the tractor can be coaxed to start, to drive the hydraulic splitter), and hauling wood in, and ashes out. The house, more designed to resist the canyon’s heat than for cold weather, is minimally warm no matter how hot the Russian stove is kept, so we dress warmly and keep close to the stove whenever we need a really warm place to comfort us.
The hot tub also has to be fed wood to keep it hot, but there is nothing to beat the pleasure of being in over 100 degree F. water when it is snowing, and in the single digits or teens (from the head up). For our New Year’s celebration, we had champagne and Triscuits with brie to accompany our soak.
Now that we are well beyond the solstice, the chickens are again laying plenty of eggs and the gardening catalogs have piled up. A sense that we have had about enough of winter is creeping into our consciousness. Snow is pretty, and David has made a few rounds of the place on skis, but there’s plenty to do that will be easier after the snow has left us……