Sunday, 22 January 2012

Weather watching

If I pad along a track that tries to stay close to the Earth’s heartbeat, I see everything differently.

The weather – sunny . . . windy . . . rainy . . . frosty – it all makes a very immediate difference if daily life works in rhythm with what is natural. 

Having no washing machine because of building works meant washing clothes in the bath, as I used to do.  Nothing has been straightforward.  Some of the time the water had to be turned off and the hot water tank drained down; much of the time the electricity was off . . . on again . . . off again . . . Sometimes I would be boiling a kettle and the electricity suddenly cut –

So, as it’s been cold and rainy outside I cleaned out the grate of the luxury fire and set up the storm kettle indoors so we could boil water to fill up the thermos and thus have hot drinks and water to wash self, crocks etc.  The water is fetched by a bucket from either outside or the bathroom upstairs.

I planned to have a bath then wash my clothes in the bath water to save wasting water, and a day came when the wind blew, the rain held off, and I needed a bath/shower!  But on that very morning our neighbours builders set to work with their angle grinder just the other side of the garden wall (we did our side in the autumn).   Cement dust blew across the garden with every gust of wind!   Not a day for hanging out washing, then!  After that it rained again.  I gave up and had a normal shower.

But yesterday I got self and my clothes bathed – no builder, no rain, sunshine, brisk wind, dry breezy night, sunshine and wind still this morning. 

Since we had the solar panels on our roof, we don’t run the furnace for heating or hot water very often – we rely on the sunshine in the summer and autumn, and in the winter just occasionally turn on the water heater for showers, and even more occasionally the central heating if it’s raining out and someone has a lot of washing to dry in time for a trip away or has completely run out of trouser to wear for work or some such emergency.  So, though this has been an exceptionally mild winter, we have got in the habit of dressing very warmly indoors rather than relying on central heating.  We have the woodstove in the evening, and it lifts the cold and damp throughout the house, but our bedrooms can be chilly!  I sit in bed to work, and I wear fleece trousers, a vest (UK – US peeps I mean underwear not waistcoat), a high-necked fleece, and a big thick fleece hoodie over the top.  And two pairs of socks.  And at night, flannel pyjamas.

Thus my washing in its waterlogged state is challengingly thick and heavy!  But that brisk wind had it almost dry, and now it’s festooned on the airers I have rigged up around the garret finishing off.

The result of all this is that weather now means so much more to me than ‘nice day’, ‘dull day’ etc.  It makes all the difference to the management of the veggie garden and the wormeries (worms can’t cope with too much cold or heat), to the choice to do the laundry or not, whether to walk or take the bus or just give up and stay at home, whether to sit out on the step and boil up for tea in the storm kettle or clear the grate instead, whether there is rainwater collected for watering plants and soaking dishes or everything has to come from the tap.  I notice more and am more tuned in to the turning of the year.  It feels good.

I am also, incidentally, filled with admiration for Diana Lorence’s hearth management.

She has beautifully sculpted ash, artistically arranged anthracite and firewood, and a modest stash of evenly cut size-graduated fuel waiting out on the porch.  This does her for all her cooking and water-heating.

To appreciate how impressive this is, you should look at our hearth, 

and bear in mind that we have the back-up of a solar-augmented electric mini-oven, hotplate and kettle – and Diana doesn’t!  Go, girl!  Life, you are doing it well!!

(Image of Diana Lorence's fireplace at Innermost House taken from the album on the Innermost House Facebook page; also here on the main website.)


365 Day 22 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

Another statue of the BVM.  I like it.  I like her.  So what?  I salute her in my mind.  Don’t need this statue.  I feel the same about family photos: I love my family so very much, but I have no photos of them up around the house – they are sewn into my heart, and that is where the pictures of them are.


Anonymous said...

We are adaptable. Our lives move at a pace that is comfortable to us. Hanging the wash, putting wood on the fire...all of this spells home to me.

But letting go of the statues, the photos...this is what it truly means to etch them in your heart. When you let go of the physical completely.

Thank you for this blessed!


Buzzfloyd said...

I like to have photos of my family around because I have other things filling my mind, and it does me good to be distracted from them by something I like. :-)

My verification word is 'botha'. Is this a sign?

Rapunzel said...

I like your house much better. Innermost House is pretty as a picture, but it seems sterile to me. No animals,plants, no children, no grandchildren, no toys or crayon pictures. Not a doll or troll in sight. Not even a meding basket.
The fire is pristine and tidy but not adequate to dry laundry (they use a fluff and fold service) or cook for a gathering clan. He has a den, but for her to have privacy or a place to work she's got to rent an office in town.
To me the picture of you snuggled up in bed with your layers of fleece and your laptop computer is far more appealing. You're Living, not telling other people how to live. There is nothing about you that feels like it's oh-so-carefully staged to make a perfect impresson.

Ember said...

Hi, Maria! Waving! x

Hello, Buzz - I think you have always loved to look at the family photos , even when you were a little girl. They seemed to be like a favourite story to return to for you - the Story of Us :0)

Hey Rapunzel - good to hear from you! Our house is certainly lived in!! So glad you like it :0) I love Diana's place too, and since I discovered it Innermost House has been a primary place for me to visit for inspiration (online I mean - north California is a bit beyond my radius of adventure, otherwise I'd be there rather a lot). x