Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ponczka Harvests the Snow

Cloud makes us different. If I ever had any doubt about the deep ways that environment shapes us, the experience of this patch of land in the Finger Lakes has stilled it.

At home, in Toronto, I watch too much television, and blocks of time vanish in aimless google searches and following the countless lures and tantalizers the internet presents. On Cloud, we have only the power our small solar kit, unless we crank up the noisy generator, which we rarely do. No internet, no tv. What’s wonderful is that it’s not missed, and rarely thought of.

On Cloud, the position of the sun in the sky matters. The solar kit faces it, and as the sun passes away, darkness closes in tight. We have what stars and moonlight are offered, one strong propane lamp, and many oil lamps, with their beautiful, yellow light, too dim to read by. We have flashlights too, and at the moment, I’m typing by the light of my notebook monitor, but the sun plays a big part in the ordering of the day. And it feels good to be conscious of this.

Another thing we lack here is piped water. We bring Toronto tap water with us, in 5 gallon jugs, and we have rain barrels that serve us during most of the year. But when the temperature drops, the barrels come down, lest the water in them freezes and the barrels crack. The relative scarcity makes the water so much more precious, and we use it so much more attentively.

But we’re at Cloud for a longer stay than usual, and the rain water we use for washing and showering ran out. So today, when the temperature rose well above freezing, as soon as things began to drip, Ponczka went out and placed buckets under downspouts, to catch the run-off from the melting snow. And this bounty so pleased her that she began to collect fresh snow and melt it down. Within a couple of hours our supply was replenished, and later that day, we were showering with the melted snow, heated in a huge kettle atop the cast iron, wood-burning stove.

It must read as all sentimental and sweet and nice. But it’s more than that. The circumstances generate attentiveness and adjustments, and appreciation and gratitude flourish. There’s other stuff going on: we’ve put a new floor in the loft bedroom, and stacked wood for the season. Ponczka’s painting and I’m trying to get through a difficult edit. But the snowfall, the light of the sun, simple gravity and heat are valued more, because of being experienced and thought about in different ways.

It’s another good day on Cloud.


  1. Sounds awesome, can't wait to visit one day

  2. Sounds awesome, can't wait to visit one day

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