Winter in our Neck of the Woods

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Winter is coming. The White Witch passed through our woods leaving no footprints. Everything is pillowed in soft snow.

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This sparkling magic is starkly different from midsummer’s slow twilight and leafy splendor. Dim dayed and long nighted, wrapped in blankets, bare-branched, warm kneed, Winter.

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Everything is solid! The full water bottle burst and froze to the nightstand. Pixie whined and licked at the ice in her water bowl. The pickles are trapped in pickle juice ice. The apples are too cold to hold in our bare hands. The coffee grounds were stuck to the press.

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We stay in the kitchen, knees pressed close to the wood stove and watch movies on the computer. We cook ourselves glorious meals and ignore the dishes for as long as possible.

The Regathering and The Going On

Back up goes the kitchen. Back up go the tarps. A new delivery of dry wood. Remove some nails. Pound in new ones. Dash outside when the sun shines. Hole up with a warm fire and a movie when the rain pours and the wind blows. I can see spring just around the next bend.

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Life feels much warmer these days.

Preparations for Winter

The ground is frozen. The snow doesn’t melt in our little pocket of Oregon’s Coastal Range. We are now regretting not working harder in the summer to get ready for winter. Oregon isn’t known for it’s cold, icy winters. I always considered all parts of Oregon (except higher elevations, of course) to be moderate, warmish winters. That’s when I had four insulated walls and central heating.

The wood stove is toasty. The change from oh-my-god-I-can’t-handle-this-freaking-frigid-see-my-breath cold to ahhh-fire-warmed-cheeks-melt-into-the-chair warmth is (as the Deaf say) CHAMP. But the time in between those two states of being could have been better had we planned ahead.

If you plan to do this, get FULL INSULATION. I know it makes the yurt more expensive. But do it. Do it. Believe me. We got roof insulation and added floor insulation ourselves. The walls get damp and tend to drip at night and when we aren’t there. The furniture swells so we can’t open the drawers. I had to practically take apart the dresser to pull pants out of the bottom drawer the other morning.

We should have put up more pole-buildings, even if we didn’t know what would go there… Just a dry place to stand with a pocket rocket (Not the sex toy! The rocket stove!) The toilet is a flimsy frame with a tarp thrown over it right now. One morning after a rainstorm filled the tarp with water, I tried to just gently ease under it. I didn’t mean to hit it with the back of my head. Yes. It was 5:00 am and at least 10 gallons of water dumped itself all over me in my compromising position. I believe my scream was returned by a pack of coyotes. We are now building a sturdy roof on what we call, The Thump.

We could have made a better icebox, tested the outdoor kitchen for convenience, built a woodshed and storage shed. Ah, hindsight is 20/20, of course. Sitting here in almost-February in 29 degree weather, I have never been so excited about spring coming. Ever. It’s just like waiting for the stove to heat up the yurt.

Yurt Living, Negatives and Positives

Negatives First

Space. We run into each other a lot. The dog gets all confused and can’t find a way to get out of the way when we are both moving around.

Wind storms are scary.

Peeing outdoors during a windstorm is messy.

We didn’t pay the extra money for wall insulation. We regret this decision.

The walls can seep, wetting things you don’t want wet. (wish we got insulation!)

Rain can be louder than expected.

Never underestimate the value of sturdy out-buildings. (You’ll want somewhere else to go in the winter.)

Positives Second

When the fire is blazing, it is gloriously cozy.

No corners for loosing things.

Rugs were a good idea. And floor insulation.

We read books instead of watching television.

Food tastes better in the woods.

Two LED rope lights light up the entire yurt.

Oil lamps are a cool thing to collect.

The moon peeks right in the domed skylight.

In the summer, the sun does too.

I always smell of campfire, coffee and wet moss. My signature scent.
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