Sunday, October 5, 2014

Snow In The Air



The beauty of fall is ephemeral up here.  It can last more than a month, but sometimes it's gone overnight.  There's going to be a heavy rain this week-end  and some of us are speculating that all of the leaves will be on the ground by Monday morning.  Sadly, the roads are filling up with busloads of leaf peepers and we can only hope that they will still be be impressed with the color, even if it is all on the ground.  There will be snow in the air before this month is out so we need to get those leaves up by then or we will rue the day in April when we try to rake up piles of slimy mulch.
I've always taken great joy in the passing of summer, but I do so from a warm, tight house that contains a few months of food and seven tons of wood pellets.  I can snowshoe every day, secure in the knowledge that the grocery store is just a few miles away and I can get there with my sturdy little car which sports all-wheel drive and excellent snow tires.

Below is an excerpt from a novel I'm working on called The Madness of Angels.  Evie a very elderly woman, remembers Vermont winters from eighty years before.

I try my best to think about tomorrow and next year, I really do.  I’ve watched and listened to so many old folks who just want to talk about how the apple tree that went down in ’39 had the sweetest apples that ever were.  I’m sure those apples were tasty, but I’m also pretty sure that they were just apples.
Around here the thing people of a certain age like to talk about is how much colder it was and how much higher the snow used to be.  They like to talk about how it took all day and sometimes a lot longer for the roads to get cleared and that’s true, but it’s because, for the most part, the road crews didn’t have all the good equipment they have these days. 
         Now don’t think I’m someone who doesn’t think the climate and everything else  is changing, because I’m not, but we’ve had some wicked hard, record-breaking weather up here in the last few years and you don’t have to believe me because all you have to do is get inside that computer and check the facts.  Winter has always been a time when you just don’t know what’s going to happen and the only thing you can do is make sure that you’ve got just about everything you think you’re going to need to keep you and yours alive and that hasn't changed.
         I can tell you though that when I was a child the winter formed us more than it does today.  I think it’s fair to say that the big people spent most of the year getting things ready for winter.  It wasn’t like now when you can call up that Parson’s Fuel and get anything from wood pellets to propane or oil.  Wood is all we used and man and boy around here was chopping or stacking whenever there was a spare hour.  
        We couldn't get out to get groceries lots of times either, so if you didn't have it in your house, most likely you wouldn't be eating it.  Basements were just chock full of food by the end of October.  A good housewife, and most of them were pretty good because they had to be, would have those jars of vegetables and preserves lined up on the shelves and when the light hit them just right it would look like a regular Aladdin’s cave, at least to my childish mind.  We’d have smoked hams hanging from the rafters down there too by early November.  It doesn’t sound too sanitary and maybe it wasn’t, but those dry cured hams smelled and tasted like nothing else.  But maybe food just tastes better to a child.

The seven tons of pellets are lined up in the basement, all packaged up in forty pound bags.  A few days ago I put the glass in the storm doors and put the screens away until spring.  The freezer is stuffed with a ridiculous amount of food including thirty pounds of blueberries we picked back in late September and a few quarts of applesauce I made from the apples we picked on an outing with our granddaughters two weeks ago.
All we need now is some snow in the air.