December 11, 2012

Snow Dunes & Silence

October’s snow lasted just a short while and was followed by a good run of crisp autumnal days and chilly nights. But now, the snow has arrived for good.

Time has taken on that same endless, uniform blankness. Everything just is, warmth and food are the main priorities, and days emerge only briefly, just to tease us with a glimmer of life before plunging back into deep, icy cold darkness. Temperatures have danced between -8°and -15°, even reputedly reaching -20° at night.

Time schedules and project plans just cannot be adhered to. Even the daily school run is hardly a certainty, with the open flat plane at the highest point of the journey often decked with thick fog or simply covered so completely with snow that the road is hardly discernible.

The farm has lost all its contours and distinguishing features. From the moment you step out of the door, a sea of white dominates the view with only larger objects like the greenhouse or the linden trees retaining their shape, standing lost and forlorn like barren rocks offshore.

Just as the cold front really began to settle in, two intrepid travellers arrived full of energy and laughter, seeking adventure and work on our desolate farm.

Needless to say, outdoor work was hardly on the cards, bar hauling in wood and tending the animals. So for three whole days they tackled the knackered window frames upstairs that we had stripped way back in the summer and never quite found the time to complete. With a protective layer of paint the old wooden frames can be encouraged to last out just another year (or two if we're lucky).

Having the extra pairs of eyes to keep Maia out of trouble has also meant progress on the kitchen. The electrician has connected all the wires that we have laid and we can still hardly believe the magic of flicking a switch to receive immediate light. The arched doorway is now almost completely plastered smooth, enabling the final paintwork to happen later this week.

The best surprise has been our brand new, wood-fired cooking stove – a belated wedding gift from my mother-in-law! It fits like a glove in the bricked-in doorway that we have prepared for it, and we have been able to install it with minimal flue pipe directly into the chimney in the office. It looks like it was made for the space! With a glass-fronted fire chamber, generous baking oven, warming oven and full surface area of hotplate, it is a food enthusiast’s dream come true.

Replacing the window on the north side and installing a door through to the yard will now have to wait until the spring (along with the floorboards, being the last in line to avoid trashing them ahead of time). Yet the thought that our Christmas roast can be made in our new kitchen - albeit with a concrete floor, no units and draughty windows - is an absolute triumph!