I sat down at the computer in order to look at the radar to see if this rain/sleet stuff that is spitting from the pre-dawn sky is going to end any time soon; but I got sucked into the Astronomy Picture of the Day’s site by the trio of images of the aurora borealis taken near Yellowknife.
Suddenly I found myself flipped backwards in time to the days — 34 years ago really — when I lived in Alaska in a cabin that my husband and I and all our friends constructed out on the edge of Goldstream Valley. We had a composting toilet, but since we had no electricity the stack really didn’t pull enough suction and it would get very wet and anaerobic if you used it to urinate in. So we always went outside for that activity, directing our guests off down “The Path” which wended its snowy way through the alder thicket south of the house to the edge of the bluff where our vegetable garden was.
I will just say that I sleep in the nude and have for years and years after I wound up almost strangled to death during my twelfth year by the long flannel granny nightgown I was wearing that had welded itself to the flannel sheets while I threw myself from side to side in whatever dream was controlling my limbs.
That being said, going off down The Path at 2 a.m. when the outside temperature is in the low -40°F (-40°C) range and if you spit it crackles as it falls to the ground is an adventure in efficiency. I usually would just slip on my mukluks and my parka, put on my hat and scurry carefully out of the house. You really did not want to slip and fall on the packed snow that surrounded the place, and had for months.
One night I emerged from the cozy cabin so attired, and focused my attention on the ground as I made my way along the path we had trampled through the snowy woods. It seemed like I could see where I was going better than usual, it was so light outside! I squatted to pee, musing on the concept that you cannot really buy beer, you can only rent it for a little while, balancing carefully so that the stream would run down hill away from my mukluks, which were merely canvas bags strapped around felt booties. That night such care was unnecessary, as the warm fluid immediately vaporized into frozen fog and drifted slowly down in the still air. I stayed down for a minute, stretching my hamstrings and letting myself drip dry. As I crouched there, I looked up and immediately became drawn into the flickering flowing floating crackling lights that were dancing all over the night sky.
I slowly stood up, unable to take my eyes away from the hypnotic show going on above me. I don’t know how long it lasted, I really don’t. But I know that I stood there until my bare knees, which were really all that were showing of my basically nude body between the tops of my mukluks and the bottom of my parka, suddenly lost all feeling and I felt a very cold draft begin to blow up the chimney formed by my torso and the shell of the jacket since I had neglected to put on a scarf. I also had no hat on, and my ears were hanging out in the open since I had had my head tilted backwards for the show.
I snapped out of my hypnotic state and rushed back into the house. I shed my outer garments, carefully putting the mukluks up on the high shelf where they would dry out, and crawled up the ladder into the loft. I slid back under the quilts into the warmth of my young husband, trying not to touch him with my very chilly body. He rolled over and threw his arm over me and instantly recoiled from the ice maiden he found himself wrapped around.
“Good God!” he gasped, shocked awake. “What have you been doing?”
“There were the most amazing Northern lights out there, I got sucked up into the Universe.”
He immediately got up, went down and put on his parka and boots and went out to gaze at the spectacle himself, as he negotiated “The Path” for his own nightly relief expedition.
I was asleep, half warmed, when he crawled in with me, an ice man to match the ice maiden. We melted each other.
It’s been beautiful at The Havens lately.
We’ve been working hard too. Not only have we been building walls, we have been pruning and burning grape trimmings and we had a sauna in there too as well as some extremely nice and friendly and protracted afternoon encounter sessions. S0 I have not been blogging, or really visiting blogs either.
Plus I got sucked into Zuma blitz on Facebook and I have been mesmerized by it for days. When I thought about the Aurora borealis this morning, I realized that that game does something hypnotizing to your brain. I really can’t tell you how obsessed I have been with it. And it is going to stop right here and now because I have a lot better things to do than move the mouse around on the computer desk and match colors and make balls blow up. I mean really. But I see how gamers get made. I think their brains become rewired.
Anyway, in between obsessive game playing sessions, this is what we accomplished in the yard.
The vegetable garden is planted, at least the cool weather crops. I have lots of seeds (broccoli, broccoli raab, beets, chard, carrots) shivering in the ground this morning — it is rain/sleeting just at freezing point — in addition to the bed of hardy lettuces, kale and spinach that made it through the depths of winter. This cold damp is nothing to them! We ate some of them for dinner last night, along with a quiche made from the last of last year’s asparagus.
We had the first batch of fresh asparagus a few days ago, and my my my it was goooood. Since we picked those first brave spears the weather has harshened and the patch is standing at attention, in cold storage, awaiting the return of spring. I have little pea sprouts that are about an inch tall. They are almost old enough to take the row cover off of them. I have found that the cardinals, blue jays, robins, squirrels, and who knows who else think that tiny little pea sprouts make the tastiest salad ever, so if I want to have any peas to grow up and make actual pea pods, I had better protect the little darlings until they are not so tender and tasty any more. The peas don’t care about cold weather, in fact they prefer it. I pray the spring does not heat up too soon, hot peas don’t make pods, they just shut down and die.
Anyway, that’s the news from hereabouts; hope your news is good.
Hen and chicks “Gazelle”