I almost never looked at the weather report when I lived in California. Looking out the window in the morning was enough to tell me what the day was going to be like. Seasons had pretty much the same weather, year to year. There were months at a time when the weather didn’t change. My neighbor from Michigan called it heaven.
Liz here, sharing the latest from Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.
The first several years I lived at DR, I started my day by having coffee with the coffee group at the Milkweed Mercantile. I started learning from others about the different weather patterns in this part of Missouri, and the fact that most people (especially the ones who come from snowy parts of the country) look at the weather report every day. I got anecdotal experience listening to interpretations of the weather from Alis, who grew up in Iowa, or Kurt, from Wisconsin, or Javi, who is from New Hampshire. And hey, I read To Build a Fire by Jack London in high school. A cautionary tale, indeed.
Despite my diligent efforts to isolate myself to avoid getting COVID, I finally did get it. I had a mild case that lasted a few weeks. Once I could see that my symptoms remained mild, it was almost a relief to finally get it and then get over it. And during my continued isolation, life in the village continued on, with a few small potluck dinners at Christina’s, a dance party in the Casa, and a handful of communards returning from winter trips.
There are forms of water I’m sure are never mentioned in a Berkeley winter weather report: drizzle, freezing rain, freezing fog, and snow flurries. And then there’s my own catalog of snow forms: snow that falls in tiny hard balls, huge flakes of snow that float to the ground, and this morning, snow that looks like finely shredded coconut, exactly like the fake snow I used for decoration in my Berkeley home at Christmas time.
We currently have two visitors from Colorado. I use the term “visitors” loosely, as one is Jason, a DR member who spends a week with us every few months and Emeshe, who spends months every year at DR as a wexer (work exchanger). Jason hosts morning coffee at his yurt when he’s here and I can wax poetic with him over his choice of beans and enjoy reminders of having been part of a coffee culture in Berkeley. Emeshe has returned to DR for several months, staying and working at SubHub.
Snow can be measured in different ways. New snow is not slippery, so I don’t bother putting trax on my boots to go outside. Snow can cover ice from previous snowfall, which is precarious and hard to see. I love going outside with Roxie early in the morning and watching her tiny footprints make virgin dents in snow that fell during the night. I love waking up after snowfall and I can tell by the bright light reflecting around the edges of my insulating curtains that there is snow on the ground outside.
My days are punctuated by taking Roxie for her walks. Once a day we walk past Foxholler Farmstead and I survey what’s left of their outdoor kitchen that burned down last November. I hear that plans are being made for rebuilding it over the summer.
The SubHub crew and additional Rabbits are getting ready to do some volunteer natural building for an ecovillage in Alabama. The hardest part of the trip will be boarding Roxie at a kennel while I’m gone.
There is snow, and often ice, that accumulates on tree branches, woody shrubs and stalks of tall grass, and the shape of each branch stands out individually, waving sparkly shimmers in the wind. When new snow crusts over, 11-pound Roxie can run on the surface without leaving a trace.
I’m keeping a close eye on my wood pile, trying to gauge if I have enough to last until April. We have had some polar vortexes the last three years in February and March, using up an extra amount of wood just when it looks like spring is on its way. We’ve had enough “warm” days (to me that’s any day over 25 degrees) that I can burn three logs of wood instead of six, and I follow this rule of thumb to make sure I have enough wood to last through a late season weather surprise. This year the internet is certain there won’t be any polar vortex cold weather in February and March. So far, so good.
If you’re like some people here, and you wish the snow would go away, and the weather complies, you’re left with slogging through mud on the footpaths, trying to keep mud out of your house, and sometimes fishtailing a car on muddy gravel roads leading out of DR until you come to the main highway.
And so I end with some food for thought, which emerged from reading Tiger’s Play Astrology, by Gregory David Done, based on Chinese astrology for the 2022 year of the tiger:
“If the foundation of a society is everyone for themselves, it is doomed to collapse in times of hardship when we must rely on others. If we are to live with others, then we have a duty towards them, and the strong have an obligation to protect those who are vulnerable.”
Liz Hackney is fast becoming a connoisseur of snow, which is a measure of how quiet her days are this winter season. She is looking forward to her trip to Alabama and building and creating at SubHub in the coming warm months. According to Chinese astrology, she was born in the year of the tiger, with 2022 being an auspicious year for her. Let’s hope so!