Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cabin Life: The Paradox of the Season

IciclesIt’s forty degrees, the icicles are dripping snowmelt off the roof, and it’s snowing out.  Today seems to be a perfect example of the paradox of the season.  March starts tomorrow, and the end of winter is in sight.  But there’s a pretty solid likelihood of getting a bunch more snow, as well as days and nights that are bitterly cold.

This, for me, is often the toughest time of the year.  I’m still enjoying the winter skiing and snowshoeing, as well as the sight of the white woods.  But as we get deeper into March and closer to my birthday, I start getting antsy for spring to be here.  Last year, there wasn’t really a part of the winter like this, seeing as it was so warm and light on snow.  I mean, I went canoeing on my birthday in late March last year.  That was definitely a first for me.

The driveway is a hot mess now too.  I’m still able to drive up to the cabin and haven’t had to hike in since the middle of January.  But as the snow that’s on the ground gets heavier and wetter, it’s harder and harder to stay on the tracks I’ve made.  I’ve slid off the tracks a few times and always have to back up a little bit before getting back on them and driving up to the yard.  It won’t be long before I’m complaining about the mud at the top of the driveway, but for now, I’ll have to complain about the snow.

Pico and I took a nice long walk down the road this afternoon.  I don’t keep him on a leash out here, as he has never shown an inclination to take off on me.  He wanders a hundred yards ahead of me and sometimes if he finds something especially interesting to smell, I may even get ahead of him a little bit.  Today was the first time all winter when someone came down the road as we were walking though.  I grabbed Pico’s collar and held on as the pickup truck drove by us to the end of the road, turned around and came back by.  I recognized the truck as one of my “neighbors” from down the road about two miles.  His little dog was sticking its head out the window as they went past and the little dog and Pico shared a hello bark as the driver and I shared the obligatory half wave.

I think what makes this time of year something that I think about is that it’s warm and nice and perfect weather for going out and doing my favorite activities, but due to the overcast sky and chance of rain, I find it hard to be motivated to go skiing.  The days are longer and warmer but there’s always the feeling that I can go tomorrow.  Without having to drive anywhere to go skiing, it’s easy for me to throw on some clothes and boots and head out right from the front door.

Even though I am looking forward to the warm days of spring there’s also the dread that the snow coming down could turn to rain, and kill the snow pack that’s already on the ground.  Then there won’t be any skiing tomorrow or anytime soon.  It’s the differences in these two attitudes that makes March interesting.  I can’t wait to go skiing again, and I also can’t wait to be able to walk around the woods without snowshoes or skis.

This sums up my attitude about living out here as well.  I love the life and simple pleasures my lifestyle provides.  But I’m torn when I want to take a hot shower or just veg out and watch TV.  The paradox of the season is representative of my lifestyle.  Looking forward to polar opposite desires brings me down and motivates me at the same time.  I’d like to take a hot shower whenever I want, but I also don’t want to pay for utilities or live in some dumpy apartment.  I just have to weigh my desires and decide which is best for me, just like anyone else.  After all, the hard decision of moving out here has already been made.  Now it’s up to me to make it work.


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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.

11 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    “Seize the day.” And Happy Birthday. Mine is this month March too!

  2. Frank says:

    I know the winters are long in the north country but don’t get depressed. Now is the season for ice fishing. The days are long the sun is strong and the ice is still thick. I’ve seen guys out there this time of year with golf clubs and footballs. Of course don’t forget a lawn chair and six pack. COWYI

    • Justin says:

      Hey Frank I’m actually going ice fishing next weekend. The ice is nice and thick, though I still wouldn’t drive my car out there! And of course, up here, we call six packs “bait!”

  3. joan streetman says:

    no electric or what as a hot shower would be great but do you have a large metal tub and heat water or something to take a nice bath. when I lived woodsy I heated my water and then got a very large metal galvanised tub and then poored the hot water over me as it cooled a little bit. I survived and loved the outdoor living.

    • Justin says:

      Hi Joan, I’d love to get a tub to do this in, but having to haul all my water in makes it difficult. I can’t justify using all my water for a quick hot bath when I need it for washing dishes!

      • Bill Ott says:

        I don’t think Joan cares too much about the dishes.

        • Mary C Randall says:

          melt snow, and I used to do it right in front of the wood stove.(rain bucket) Note it is alot of work and rinsing is a pain.Happy Birthday!

  4. Pam Hageny says:

    I have plenty of hot water for a shower, and all the amenities and I feel exactly the same way here in Southern Maine. I keep thinking that last year my gardens were uncovered and green in mid March. Another first. For now, it just keeps snowing every day. Soooo ready for this winter to give it up!

  5. Brad says:

    You said it all in the last two sentences…good attitude is so much of this…(and clever gear making too)

  6. Frank says:

    Learned this from my nephew. Set up an old cast iron tub on two logs. Build a fire under it and start adding snow. When it gets warm enough jump in. Now if you have girlfriend willing to join you it’s nice because because you won’t need as much water. Of course the bigger you are the less water you need also

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