There is nothing like a blizzard, bringing a general coat of 2 feet of snow and drifts of 4 feet, to bring the reality of winter home. Unless perhaps it is the second storm in the same week making that level 4 feet with a 6 foot berm from road edge to rear of Subaru. We weathered this first pair of storms well, but it has made clear that living in this close relationship with nature calls for adaptation and flexibility in our plans
Brego, our Winnebago, is 30 feet long and requires a good sized circular drive in the back field in order to turn around to nestle back in to the electric hook-up and the wind shelter near the cabin. That means that taking him out to empty the holding tank, or to refill the built-in propane tank would take major snow clearing. From the vantage point of a gentle fall season, that seemed like a simple matter of waiting for a break in weather, and using the snow blower to clear a path.
When the snows came, we found that the snow blower starts, but has little enthusiasm for moving in any direction. It lacks a reverse gear and seems to lean all it’s considerable weight into the ground when you try to push it up any modest incline. So, it basically refuses to work beyond clearing level paths between cabin and trailer porch (where our extra wood is stored) and Brego.
Our first instinct, rippling up from our past life, was “Of course we need a new, lighter, efficient snow blower. That’s obvious!” But, recognizing all the expenses of the fall, and using some adaptive thinking we discovered that we really don’t need it. The berm calls for shovel work. Working on it gently, we cleared an opening for the Subaru in two days. We have all we need to be snowed in. There is no place we need to go. So, a snow shovel and whatever modest help this old dear snow blower can give us will do just fine.
We are approaching the propane question two ways. We will check to see if the local delivery service will wave their minimum fuel amount if they top off our tank when they are delivering to neighbors. We are also leaning into the availability of electricity to heat Brego with space heaters to the levels I am accustomed to (See my blog “Preparing for a Winter Flow). It took me a few days to realize that I do not need to leave the motor home at ice box temperatures to conserve fuel and keep the electric bill down. I just need to be conscious about when I need heat and when the warmth of bed or an extra layer of clothing allows me to turn the heater down low. We did buy a simple heating pad to warm the foot of my bed before I crawl in at night, and I celebrate that luxury.
In preparing for the first drop of temperatures into the single digits, I have added to Brego’s internal insolation. There are various materials up under the dashboard to block the air flow from around the gas/brake pedals. Over the four main windows, old blankets provide a fourth layer, and drape down to the floor. There are rubber-backed mats along the aisle way, a heavier curtain on the doorway, and there are pillows tucked up in the ceiling vents. I can’t think of much more that I can do to keep the heat in and the cold out.
In terms of the holding tank, there is also a duel solution. First, I have begun using a night bucket as much as possible. That experiment is going well. With my aging knees and hips, it is not quite as easy as ten years ago when a night bucket was standard equipment for the hermitages at the Zen Practice Monastery. I am grateful for the experience of all those retreats that makes this seem more natural now.
Since the shift in Brego’s mobility came as a surprise, I have also learned that I can empty the holding tank, one bucket at a time. It took about an hour, and six trips to clear his tank from being 35% full. But I now know that if it is necessary, I can care for that need as well.
And today, five days after the snows stopped, it is warm and rainy. Who knows, we may be able to get the motor home out just fine. We will wait and see how things look the next time we need to move him. So, adapting continues, as a breath-like expanding and contracting. We see what is possible in the moment and remain grateful through it all. All we need flows into our lives and we are learning how powerful it is to live in this intimate relationship with land, weather and life.
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