This winter is hard, man! I mean, like really hard. It was below 0 F all January. It’s snowed early and often – we’re edging on toward a record snowy winter. I feel like I’ve turned into a bear. Having a child broke my illusion that I was a mellow, happy go lucky person, but this winter seems to have intensified my moody, loner crotchetiness. I’m turning into a bitter old man, despite being female and not even 40. OK, there’ve been plenty of good days too, and sun and exercise and winter beauty and feasting get me through. Here’s a rundown at my (fairly typical) attempts to live lightly in the dark times:
Transport: I still don’t own a car. My son is now catching a car pool ride to school in the morning. I bike or walk to work. I bike to pick my son up at school on my days to do that, and then we take the bus home together, except the time I forgot my wallet (see above sketch). When I’m with James we drive most places, except nearby restaurants…that’s generally only on the weekends. Luckily even then we don’t get out much. But if I did get out to the mountains/woods more I might have a slightly better attitude… I’ve flown once since last May, to Fort Yukon to teach energy efficiency. I’ll be heading to a green building conference in Portland this May as well, and back out to the villages to teach this month. So more flying than I feel comfortable with.
Food: I didn’t freeze many greens last summer, so I’ve been buying a bit more non-local veg than normal, but still mostly subsisting on local root veg. My frozen backyard fruit gave out a couple of months ago, so buying lots of shipped in fruit. Still plenty of local meat in the fridge, especially salmon. My dad does a lot of cooking for us, and I’ve fallen on the ease of store bought bread to make a quick meal (pbj, etc), so convenience dictates what I eat a lot. Most mornings my son and I start the day with eggs from our chickens though, and that I feel really good about. My meat freezer is in the back shed to save energy for freezing, but that may be hard on the workings of it – we’ll see. I haven’t unplugged my fridge this year like last winter, but this year I have an energy star fridge, so not so much incentive.
Heat: Still finding some air leaks to seal, like one around the porch attachment that lets cold air in to freeze a heat pipe when it is really cold. Once I seal that, I won’t have to keep it above 65F inside when it is below 0 outside. I’m fine tuning my setback temps on the thermostat to save big at night and when we are out of the house, while still feeling cozy when home. Someday I’ll get a wood stove installed! And solar thermal, and…
Soon enough spring will catch up with us, even here in the icy north, and I can worry about summer efficiency – which mostly involves the food garden and maybe some community outreach/advocacy!