From the Editor

A Christmas to Remember

November 2002 brought us an unusually early winter here in the northeast US. Being accustomed to winter arriving in full force usually around February, we were not altogether prepared. With temperatures just above zero overnight and days not getting out of the 'teens, we were thankful that we did get the water trough heaters in place and P-pot's heated mash bucket installed. (Yes, P-pot is still with us and will write soon…) Snow and ice arrived and presented the usual challenges, and for the horses, more fun. P-pot enjoyed its clean softness and had some good naps in it – although he needed help getting back up on a few occasions.

Christmas day's snowstorm was the most challenging, and in retrospect the most beautiful and enlightening I have seen. My parents arrived Christmas eve, knowing the next-day's snow would make travel difficult. In the morning we awoke to a beautiful white Christmas, with wet snow falling on top of the few inches of fluff, making the roads slushy. By noon it was so thick and heavy that trees and power lines were falling and roads became impassable. My brother abandoned the dangerous drive and barely made it back home, so we told other expected guests not to try. There were to be 12 of us, and now we had only four, so there was PLENTY to eat. Our neighbors could not get to their relatives and friends, so we invited them over to eat with us. (Just bring candles.)

The Christmas turkey (free range!) was in the oven and starting to cook when the power went out. Not knowing when or if it would come back on, my husband (known for his grill expertise and proud of it) transferred the bird to the gas grill. The rest of the feast was chopped, shredded, sliced, diced, and otherwise prepared, all by hand (thank goodness we had my parents' help), and it was expertly cooked on the grill. Water was scarce, but snow was plentiful, so we melted snow on the wood stove for washing and toilet flushing (you can't imagine how much snow it takes to flush one time…). Candles were sought out and lit as the gray-white day darkened.

It was a pleasantly quiet, conversation-filled happy day, busy with the activities of a usual Christmas, testing us all on our habit-breaking skills and short-term memories (the light switches are NOT going to work, the faucet will NOT bring forth water, where DID I leave the flashlight, etc.) Dinner was by plentiful candlelight, full of wonderful conversation with friendly neighbors and family. We all were most appreciative of the wood stove and the grill, and that my husband knew how to work them, and that there was enough firewood on the porch and (barely) enough gas in the grill tank. (It ran out just as we finished cooking the last vegetable.) And the food was absolutely delicious.

I thought of our Amish friends whose homes we've dined in, and how I always appreciated the fact that what we ate was lovingly and expertly prepared (and even grown) by them without the use of electricity – something that the typical American is so dependent upon. On this Christmas, I thought of them all many times, was reminded of how they live and do things, and I thanked them in my mind, again, for their efforts and good will.

I enjoyed living like that, close to nature – like a pioneer roughing it. Lots of physical work to do, but wow – no computer - how nice! Getting in touch with the real world was beautiful, and grounding, and regenerating, and exhausting. Yes, after two more days of it I wanted the power back, and we did get it, but it was a friendly reminder that Nature is in charge and our conveniences are a luxury – we CAN do without them. Living in comfort can still be achieved with more natural means; it just takes more planning and preparation. We do need to be prepared for times when we are without what we are dependent upon, so we are stacking up the wood and stockpiling the candles and water jugs, because winter is really just beginning here…

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