Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cabin Life: Winter Without Summer

The last week has been nothing but sunshine and warmth.  The change in seasons was quick, and it Daffodils seems like we went from zero to sixty in the temperature department, but it’s been good for the mind.  The trees are blooming and the daffodils are shining bright yellow in the hot sun.  It’s a good time of year even though my nose won’t stop running and my eyes are always itchy.

The last time I got an allergy test was a few years ago in Jacksonville.  The doctor pricked both of my forearms with different allergens.  On my right forearm were things like dust mites and pet dander.  On my left arm were all the different types of pollen.  After about five minutes, the nurse checked in on me and saw my left arm.  She left and came back with the doctor, who decided that the red, swollen flesh necessitated immediate action.  He cleaned up my arm and handed me a bright red inhaler that he recommended I carry with me at all times.

Last year, my allergies weren’t so bad.  With everything blooming early in March and then getting frozen in April, the pollen never really went that crazy.  But now that we’re done with winter, I’m not really looking forward to seeing a wave of yellow air coming towards me.  I can only hope that in the next few weeks we get some rain.  It’s really dry up here, but my reason for wishing for rain is selfish.  A few well placed days of rain during the pollen onslaught can mean the difference between a normal spring and a horrible spring for me.

Hopefully this spring isn’t too bad.  But even if the pollen is yellowing the air, at least there’s no snow on the ground anymore.  I don’t have to hike into the cabin and I don’t have to worry about the woodstove.  It’s amazing how much of my time is spent handling and thinking about the stove though.  Even now, I’m starting to haul logs out of the woods down to the yard to buck and split for next year’s supply.  It’s been in the seventies for a week and I’m still working on firewood.

Even though the weather has turned and I actually enjoy working outside running the chainsaw, it’s a bit draining to already be preparing for winter.  It’s only May, and I’m thinking ahead to October, wondering if when all is said and done if I’ll have enough wood set aside or if I’ll have to buy some.  Will I be able to build a new wood shed or empty out the old one and fill it to the brim?  What kind of new wood stove am I going to buy?  Should I go with stainless steel or black chimney pipe?  These are the questions I’ll be working on all summer.

I’m not sure how I feel about that.  Sitting here now, with the sun burning off the morning chill, do I really want to spend the few nice months a year we get up here working on winter projects?  I don’t really have much of a choice I guess.  I just hope I can remember to enjoy the warmth while I work on winter projects.  Because a winter without a summer is nothing to look forward to.


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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.

6 Responses

  1. Brad says:

    How about some more lumens in that weak lighting system… 12v battery, solar panels, 12v LED bulbs.

    • Justin says:

      Yeah, that’s the plan! Just have to get a few components and I should have plenty of light to make those winter nights more tolerable.

  2. Brandon says:

    I’ve been reading you since mid-winter. I’m jealous of your lifestyle and I appreciate your insights. Thank you!

    Warning: Not exactly sure where you’re located, but I’m in Watertown. This past weekend has been the absolute worst initial annual blast of allergy symptoms I’ve experienced in over 30 years of allergy suffering! Everything bloomed at once! I hope, for your sake, that it doesn’t hit your location as it did mine! Just a heads up!
    And again, thank you for your work here.

    • Justin says:

      Thanks for the heads up! It’s starting to pile up on the car now but it’s going kind of slow, so hopefully we won’t get hit like you guys did!

  3. joan streetman says:

    I got a wood stove from VT and was very happy with it as it was a catalytic converter and took only foot long logs that lasted for ever when banked before going to bed at nite

    • Justin says:

      Was it a Vermont Castings stove? I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about them and am going to look for one this summer.

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