Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cabin Life: Patiently Waiting for Spring

An Old FenceWell, they say that spring is here, but the eighteen inches of snow on the ground out here says otherwise.  While snowshoeing up in the back of the property, I took an old ax handle and checked the snow depth.  There’s still two feet of snow where the sun doesn’t shine.

I needed a break this week.  The wood stove is once again giving me problems with negative pressure causing smoke to come into the cabin.  I would be a lot more worried about this if it was December or January, but since it’s the end of March, it’s really not bothering me that much.  Obviously, the stove and the chimney need to be replaced, but now is not the time for that.

I can get by for a few weeks, occasionally staying at friend’s houses or just getting a small fire going to take the chill out of the air at night.  I’m done having a fire going all the time now though since I would really like to avoid having the cabin burn down.  Luckily, the end is in sight and the days are warm and sunny enough that I don’t need a fire.

So I’ve spent the week sleeping at a friend’s house, with the cats and Pico.  I’m still spending my days and evenings at the cabin, but taking advantage of the offer of an “on-grid” place to stay.  It’s been really nice having internet and TV and hot water.  I know I’m not the only one who feels that it’s time for winter to hit the road, and I enjoy knowing that the end is near.

But in the mean time, I’m taking advantage of the warm days and the sun staying up much later.  I like not falling asleep at six in the afternoon, and the solar lights are working well with the increased daylight.  The solar radio still doesn’t get enough juice during the day for more than an hour or so of listening time though.

This is also my favorite time of year to go skiing and snowshoeing.  There’s enough snow on the ground that it’s still easy to bushwhack through the woods without getting caught on downed trees or branches.  My girlfriend and I went for a snowshoe the other day to check on Upper Camp and just kind of explore the woods behind the log cabin.  We had no problem with obstructions, but definitely needed the snow shoes to get around.

For most of the fall and early winter, I was looking for an old double-bit ax to rehab.  I decided it would be easier to just buy a new one, so I did.  But on our trek to Upper Camp, I checked the wood shed and barn to make sure that no critters had moved in.  I found an old double-bit ax in each of the buildings.  The handles are shot, the heads are pocked and rusty, and the edges are most likely too far gone to make either ax all that useful again.  But I grabbed them and carried them back to my cabin anyway.

I’m going to clean them up and put new handles in even if I don’t get to use the axes for anything other than decoration.  It’s part of the feeling of spring that I want to rehab something that’s pretty much useless.  The season is changing and it’s a chance for all of us to rehab our mental states and start looking again for the simple beauty in the world.


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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.

2 Responses

  1. valerie says:

    I love how you take a subject and weave it through your story and end with such a profound finish. I look forward to reading your blog every week.

  2. MAry C RANDALL says:

    Yes, I agree, I am tired of the snow, get on with mud season, and the crocuses,daffadils…I am definently interested in hearing how you live “off grid” and have in-door plumbing. Thomas Jefferson at his home in Charlotte had a wind tunnel tpe effect…so interesting but I can’t describe it better. All my life in the summer growing up we had an outhouse and we used a bar of ivory for the spring feed small lake here. Happy Spring

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