Packing it in for the Winter

December, 2017

I took a walk in the woods yesterday. The snow is ankle deep now and fluffy, the air cold enough to flush the cheeks but not cold enough to send me inside for cocoa. I followed deer trails and found the place three of them had slept last night–these were the ones who visited us last summer while we worked on the house. Glad to see they survived hunting season. On my walk I stepped over mouse trails, trying to not disturb them, those exquisite tiny footprints with a tail dragging behind like a watercolor brush.

The heavy quiet of winter has come in full force, the kind of quiet that allows the sound of snowflakes falling to seem loud. Our summer and fall of frantic work is over; it’s time to pay attention to other things and rest a bit before taking up the work again in the spring.

We did, however, accomplish a few jobs before our mandatory retirement time set in. I’ll take some time for a little update.

Now that the roof is built, the north and south sides of the house are well protected from the elements by its three-foot overhang. J. turned his sights to the east and west ends of the house, the gable ends, which leave quite a bit of the house exposed. He began pounding up an extension of the gable ends of the roof, which will allow the it to extend past the exterior walls of the house and keep them as dry as possible. It’s exciting to now have a stud wall up on the lofted ends of the house.

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The view from inside. 

I mentioned in my last post that we got the walls of our house delivered a few weeks ago. They were grown in a local field by a farmer who drove them, swaying on the back of his ancient farm truck, up our hill path. I’m speaking, of course, of straw bales. We bought 200 of them to store for spring, when we’ll stack them, Lego-style, as the walls of our home.

To keep them dry over the winter, we piled them inside the house, liberally sprinkled with moth balls to discourage the presence of those exquisite little mice…

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The effect is decidedly creche-like. Happy Christmas, everyone.

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200 bales of straw take up a lot of room. They did, however, allow a brilliant photo-op. The children clambered up to the top of the pile and, perched on the bales, occupied for the first time  the space that will be their bedrooms.

Straw bales stacked high, it became a much more urgent task to make the house weather-proof. J. spent some time on a ladder in the after-work darkness nailing up tarps, and I came the next day as rain and snow fell, to finish the job. It felt a bit like dressing a super-model in sweat pants and moon boots.

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Our poor, beautiful house again having to suffer the indignity of tarps. 

Yesterday on my walk through the woods I stopped at our house and peeked in through the tarps to check that all was well inside. Thanks to all the work we’ve done this fall, we have a flying chance of spending next winter tucked inside this beautiful space among the snow-covered trees. I lingered inside, breathing in the scent of straw and wood, not wanting to leave.

A gentle wind blew against the tarps, pulling them in and out as if the house were breathing, slowly, in slumber. Rest well this winter, little house.

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