Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hooray! We’re Snowed In!

While it seems that the majority of my contacts on Facebook are more annoyed than thrilled about the white blanket covering much of the East Coast, I am really enjoying the amount of snow we've been getting this winter! Last year we only got one good snowstorm, in March. Before that, I can't even remember the last time I saw more than an inch or two accumulate in Virginia.
This year it started with that big snowstorm in December, just three days before our trip to Estonia. The timing of that snowstorm couldn't have been much better. My best friend was visiting from Europe, and I had told her that it doesn't really snow much here. All of a sudden, the sky opened up and a few hours later we had over a foot of snow. What a treat! Lovely, thick, snow, perfect for sledding and snowman building, and lots of it! At the same time, it was a bit nerve wracking. We weren't sure if we'd be able to get the car out of the driveway, but then, with all the flight cancellations at Dulles International Airport, we weren't sure if we would even have to! Luckily the runways did get cleared in time, we got the car out, and the drive to Dulles was a bit treacherous in only a few spots. On the road, we saw pickup trucks carrying loads of snow and joked that they must be stocking up; you never know when we'll get more snow like this!

It turned out that there was no shortage of snow in Estonia, either. It snowed practically every day of the three weeks we were there. It stayed cold, so instead of melting and getting all slushy and slippery, it just kept accumulating. And unlike here in Virginia, where people start freaking out at the mere thought of inclement weather, in Estonia you just keep shoveling the driveway until there is no place left to put the snow.

We finally have a winter like I remember from my childhood. And yet today I experienced an unsettling feeling while reading comments from several of my friends who have had power outages. I realized, not for the first time, how unprepared we would be in the event of an electrical outage or a natural disaster. When I was in Oregon, we lived off the grid. Not having power was the norm, and we ran a generator only when we needed to. We took showers in spring water heated by the sun in the summer, and by wood fires in the winter. Here, however, we are so dependent on the "grid", on gasoline, on public water lines, and we take it all for granted. So what happens when the power goes out? I'd really prefer to be more prepared and self sufficient. Modern technology is amazing, but the way we are so dependent on it is a bit frightening. My computer was in the shop, getting repaired for the better part of last week. I found the week to be very grounding and revitalizing, as I was forced to find activities besides sitting in front of the computer pretending to be productive. The house got cleaned. Junk drawers got organized. I exercised. I made phone calls and reconnected with friends I hadn't spoken to in years. Throughout the week I found myself habitually gravitating towards the computer room, but it was almost disappointing when I got the call that my computer was ready to be picked up. You may recall that in my last post, I pondered who was responsible for the perpetual mess and clutter in our house, and I have now discovered that it is my computer. I kid you not; within 10 minutes of me bringing the computer in, my freshly cleaned and organized house was already slipping back to its previous state. I have now decided to switch off my computer for one day every week. I'm excited to implement my plan, and hope that my upcoming school semester allows me to do it!

Perhaps it would do us all some good to make a shift, no matter how small, towards a more simple life. When I say "simple", of course, I don't necessarily mean more convenient, but instead slowing down a bit, connecting more with our daily activities and hopefully becoming more self sufficient in the process. Chop wood, carry water.

And now, I'm off to make some snow angels and try to find my compost pile.

What do you like to do when you get snowed in? How much do you depend on the "grid" on a daily basis?




  1. What a great post! Made me recall playing in the snow and also tied into my thoughts on being more self-sufficient. I really like keeping the wood-burning stove going to take the pressure off the heat pumps. One problem with winter is that my composter is getting full to the brim....partly due to the COLD and partly due to my not being so good about poking and stirring.

  2. I love the picture! Really though I'm jealous of the south. The NE has gotten really no snow during the winter. In early Dec yes but that was not winter! I'm super upset by this. We just missed this last storm too it seems.

    I remember just loving to play in the snow and sledding. Building snow forts was always a good time as well!

  3. Hi Kai. I was thinking about our grid dependence today too. We are so cozy and warm right now but have no backup heat if the power goes out. I keep meaning to invest in a woodstove but haven't done it yet. My last gas bill might motivate me though.
    Either way, the snow outside is gorgeous! This is how I remember childhood too and I love that my boys are getting a real winter in Virginia. Oh, and on the computer front, I think I might join you in turning it off for a day a week. I indulge way too much, I might as well get a tv and veg out everyday.

  4. Being snowed in is bittersweet for me. the snow is gorgeous and provides some peace to my soul. Nothing wrong with a nice warm beverage and hanging for a long time in my pj's.

    I love being around people too. the extrovert in me goes stir crazy. I'll even just start helping people shovel because of the other interaction.

    Great snowman!!