As winter wanes

After a great many weeks with more days in the minus twenties than we care to count, temperatures in our neck of the woods have bounced upwards recently. Getting outside for a ski, a snowshoe or just to do chores, has been much more enticing on these milder days, though in the evenings we invariably find ourselves clustered back around the woodstove.

Of course, the pets need no excuse; they curl up by the Ironheart whenever it pleases them, which is often. And when we can, we curl up with them.

The Ironheart in winter

It’s only taken us four winters, but we finally figured out how best to place our furniture in relation to our Ironheart woodstove.

Sofas placed around Ironheat woodstove

Early on in the season we had a fundamental rethink about our main living space, which is one large room with a kitchen at one end and a living area at the other with the Ironheart in the middle. When we moved in, we almost unthinkingly placed our dining table in the centre of the room and next to the Ironheart. It made practical sense, given that meals are served from that end of the room, but somehow it never felt right. It really didn’t make the most of Ironheart and opportunities for enjoying its warmth and the glow from the firebox.

Suddenly, this winter, we realized that the dining table really belonged over by the large windows at the far end of the room and our sofas felt most at home right in front of the Ironheart. Now, we have a room that just makes sense for us, with our dining table still near the warmth of the Ironheart, but able to give us views to the outdoors and abundant daylight, and our sofas ideally positioned to maximize exposure to the Ironheart. It’s where we read, chat, play games, think about work or even get a little work done, snack or enjoy a casual meal, hang out with our furry friends (Petkid’s readers will know that we now have two kittens as well as Reggie the labrador retriever), and just generally live. It has made the Ironheart even more central to how we live, and that’s made this winter that much better.

You can read more about how we decided to physically position our Ironheart in our ICF bungalow in this previous post.

Winter tracking

Waking to an outside temperature of -25 C this morning, I kicked into a different gear. When it’s that cold (about -12 for readers who use Fahrenheit), we try to head straight outside with extra food for the chickens. I was particularly grateful this morning for the fact that we finally got a water heater hooked up in time for this winter; not having to handle the water on these sub-zero days is rather nice.

Reggie came out with me this morning, and hardly seemed to notice the cold. He took his time to check out whatever scent may linger in the snowprints of various small animals that have tracked across our hillside. I love the pale blue tinge to the snow at that time of day, and the soft warmth of the light coming from the east. It was worth it to slow down a little and pay attention. It always is.

black-labrador-retriever-following-scent-in-snow

black-lab-in-winter

black-lab-sniffing-animal-prints-in-snow

black-dog-in-snow

And then it was winter, sort of

It’s been a funny old winter so far. After a couple of good snows in November, we had a curiously un-wintery December. We chopped down our Christmas tree early in the month in very muddy conditions, and welcomed a grey Christmas day that felt distinctly unseasonal. We did go for a long, rambling walk through our woods with the dog that day, and there wasn’t even the slightest hint of snow to come. The new year brought a strange combination of snow, rain and then freezing rain, leaving a glistening carapace on absolutely everything in sight.

It looks like it’ll be the kind of winter that will be hard for placing memories and milestones. I know that my youngest did manage to fit in a bit of sledding with friends, but I’m already unsure of exactly when that would have happened. Probably November, which seems eons ago.

A different point of view

RC buggy by frozen pond

Today was the last day of school before Christmas; it definitely wasn’t the last day of work for my husband or me, but it was certainly a milestone. The household will have a different rhythm for the next couple of weeks. We’re all hoping for more snow in anticipation of some snow shoeing, snowy walks and maybe a backwoods ski.

Our older boy, however, is really hoping for some nice cold temperatures and a hard crust on our land. He’s a budding mechanical engineer and in his spare time he scratch builds remote control vehicles, amongst other things. Reviewing the latest images on my camera tonight, I found a series of shots taken down at our pond. The landscape is so familiar, but it’s transformed by the subject matter and my son’s perspective. It’s a great reminder that we share a love for this place, but how we see it is defined by who we are.

RC buggy on frozen stream