As the season moves from autumn and fall toward winter we are making a number of adjustments to help reduce fuel consumption while keeping ourselves warm. We have decided that since both the cabin and Brego (our motor home) need to be kept warm enough to protect pipes and possessions from too great a temperature dip, we will use both. Bill sleeps in the cabin; going to bed early and rising early to do Qi Gong and write before the sun rises. I sleep in the motor home, sometimes waking in the middle of the night to do a shamanic journey.
When I get up, he already has the cabin warmed into the low 60’s and I give Brego a ten-minute burst from the central propane heater to warm things from 47 to around 50. This also gives me a chance to use the small space of the bathroom as a warming closet for my clothes. I layer my “lounging clothes” over my night clothes, greet the morning, and then head to the warmth of the cabin and the coffee that awaits me. On mornings when it is below 30* on the porch, Bill starts a fire in the small iron fireplace to take the chill off the small living room.
When the sun is up over Black Butte, I remove the three layers of insulation from Brego’s south-facing windows. I drape the felt over the couch to protect it, raise the Venetian blinds and reposition the reflective silver insulation sheet to catch as much sunlight as possible. By mid-day, the temperature will be 65 – 70. Friends have recommended the large diameter bubble wrap attached directly to the window to let in light, so I am trying to gather that for both dwellings from stores who are trying to recycle their packaging.
Many of our days are still spent out on the land or hiking the nearby trails. Yesterday, we went up the mountain to collect fire wood along a forest service road. Bill will spend part of the next few days sawing it into pieces that fit the fireplace. He is also working on a spiral path to Grandfather Tree. I am tending the young transplanted trees, keeping a small pond available, and using pine needles to lightly mulch some dry spots in the meadow.
Other days we are both at our computers, sometimes using the afternoon warmth to do Qi Gong or do home care and maintenance. Our ritual of sitting out at the bench in our meadow has moved earlier, now that the sunset is nearing 4:15. After some time to share about our day, I go in and put the insulation back up in Brego and we share dinner and the evening in the cabin, which the space heater easily keeps at 60 – 65.
When snow comes and temperatures drive us indoors, there are books to read and others to write. It will be soon be time to create rich soups and drink spice tea. The creative energies will find new expressions. But there will still be walks in the woods and shoveling snow it keep us connected with nature.
A month or so ago, I asked some of my family and friends if they had any yarn to share. I have received about 20 skeins and leftover balls of earth-tone yarn. I’m 2/3 of the way through knitting a warm afghan for the bed, and plan several other projects to keep my hands busy and my lap warm this winter. Today, I will unpack my sewing machine to begin making curtains for three of the windows in the cabin, hoping to add another layer of warmth.
We have decided to drain the motor home’s fresh water tank, in order to protect it. The hot water heater in the cabin is wonderfully efficient, so showers and dish washing are easy to do there. With a new dryer off the bedroom, the cabin also provides the luxury of warming our clothes while we shower. I think this will be one of my favorite treats when colder weather comes.
At about 7:30, I change into nighttime clothes with lounging clothes over them before I return to Brego. There is another brief burst of propane powered heat to make the transition to bed. Here I do journey work, read and settle down for the night. A small electric space heater in the aisle is set to come on to help keep things above 47* through the night. I climb in under a delicious pile of blankets, draw my scarf over my head and nestle in the a good night of sleep.
I wanted to share these practical matters with you, because it is all part of the fabric of living an appropriate life as a human couple seeking balance with the natural world. We are trying to keep our foot print small even as our living space is now closer to 600 square feet. We are also welcome the bundling up, eating warming foods, and cuddling which make us look forward to the winter.