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Here in Vermont we were very lucky this time around when Hurricane Sandy struck — we were spared the devastation that took all of us by surprise a year ago in August. It is sad to see the destruction that has befallen our home state of New Jersey, especially “down the shore”.
It was however interesting to see as I drove around over this past weekend and on Monday before the storm gained a foothold, the preparations being taken here, although the forecast was not as dire as it was in the New York area and other coastal sections of the eastern seaboard. The gas stations were doing a booming business since everyone was there, filling their vehicles, filling their supply of gas cans (a requirement here in Vermont), and even some folks had their generators on their vehicles, filling those as well. The stores didn’t have the run that the stores closer to the storm did, but clearly you could see that people had some extra water or milk in their shopping carts. As I dropped a child off down in town, I was amazed to see that every single house along the way had their outdoor belongings tucked away or tied down, bare lawns and secured belongings clearly added to the evidence that the folks in Vermont weren’t taking any chances this time around.
One of the good things about living up here is that you feel almost compelled to be “stocked up”. Everyone, or so it seems, puts food by for the winter…or the blizzard….or the hurricane… or even the zombie apocalypse (Happy Halloween, everyone!) if you believe my sons. If you don’t can, pickle, dry or jar you are pretty much a newbie and you feel like a loser. If you haven’t learned how to make at least some of the stuff that you eat yourself … well, you definitely aren’t from around these parts. Everyone that I know does some form of preservation of the fresh summer veggies and has other goodies tucked away to keep them going through the bad weather.
My recent posts on homemade yogurt and homemade granola go hand in hand with my post on homemade jam. The peppers from the garden have been sliced and frozen for winter soups or stir fries. The tomatoes have been slowly boiled down to sauce and tucked away in the freezer. Habanero peppers, cayenne peppers and Thai peppers have been dried, as has the basil that now resides in a mason jar on a shelf in the pantry. I have made pickles and put up Jersey peaches at the height of the season.
Potatoes from the garden will be stored in the basement, along with the canned goods and non-perishables that will help us weather what Mother Nature and zombies may throw our way in the coming months. My sourdough starter is in mason jars (note the plural) in the fridge and can easily be turned into a loaf of bread when the mood strikes.
We have huge stockpots that were hauled out a few days ago to hold water in the event that the power went out, so we wouldn’t need to start the generator right away. The firewood was brought in and stacked by the wood stove. Many a batch of dough has risen by the warmth of that fire as have many bagels, cinnamon buns and dinner rolls. When the power was out before the generator, we even cooked soup and boiled water for pasta on the wood stove.
We are fortunate that the farm down the hill is a dairy farm and we have gotten raw milk there on occasion – especially when the ladies and I made cheese.
I remember someone that I knew in New Jersey years ago commenting, “why store stuff in our house when we have the supermarket down the street, storing everything for us?” Why? Because you never know when zombies can come out of the wood work or the “storm of the century” decides that you are in its path. Here, we lose the power quite a bit (not as much as we used to, but it happens with some frequency, especially during windy or rainy weather). Sometimes, it happens when you least expect it. For instance, two weeks ago at about 10 p.m. the power went out for about 1/2 hour for no discernable reason. I was critical of Tom’s decision to buy a generator, figuring candles are romantic aren’t they? However, not being able to shower or flush the toilets or have drinking water, isn’t. When we lived in New Jersey a power outage if it occurred usually happened at the height of a heatwave and resulted in no power. We had a gas stove and our water came from the water system. Here, our water comes from a well that guess what? Doesn’t work without power so when our power goes out, so goes our water, and our showers and our toilets. Trust me, generators are a good thing and for the time or two that you might need them for days or a week or more, you will be thanking your stars that you invested in one.
If living in Vermont, and my wonderful neighbors and friends, have taught me anything, it is that we have to be prepared to be self-sufficient — whatever the reason. We could survive here for days (in fact, last year when Irene struck we did) without a store run and weeks if necessary. I have made bread on the gas grill, I have cooked dinner on the wood stove. We have melted snow in pots on the wood stove to flush toilets. It may sound apocalyptic but it’s not. It’s being prepared. We are fortunate to have honey from the bees and fresh eggs from the chickens. If the zombies ever did strike, I am sure that we could have chicken from the chickens as well, but I’m hoping that we don’t have to go that route. The goats, cuties that they are, are off limits.
Being prepared is something that I have learned not to take for granted. You never know when the weather or the zombies may take a turn for the worse and after these last few storms we have all learned that you can never, ever be too prepared. In addition, knowing that you can take care of yourself and be self reliant and self sufficient, even if it is only for a few days, is a really good feeling.
- I am not prepared for a zombie apocalypse. (pinkbekah.wordpress.com)
- Are You Prepared for a Zombie Apocalypse? Survival Pack Offered by GOFoods Global (prweb.com)
- Zombie Apocalypse Science (buzzfeed.com)
- What to do with a bumper crop of habanero peppers? (ask.metafilter.com)
Today is the second day that we woke up to it snowing. Yesterday, at some points it looked more like the middle of February rather than the middle of April. Literally, it was snowing so hard you couldn’t see and the snow was accumulating — the grass was covered as were all the lawn furniture and flower beds. Mother Nature is either a bit backwards this year or she has a really weird sense of humor. Perhaps she is just in perpetual April Fool’s mode this month. Either way, not much seeing the humor in it.
My poor seedlings might never see the light of the outdoors if this keeps up – might as well turn the sun room into the garden this year. The wood stove is still blasting away here. If you didn’t look at the calendar you might not believe that it is in fact April. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we’ve had April snowstorms — real storms where we wound up with inches if not a foot or more of snow — but after a very mild and snow-free winter for the most part it really is very anti-climatic. We are ready for the nice weather, we are ready for the shades of color that come along with spring — we are not ready or happy about waking up to snow showers instead of rain showers.
It’s been a busy couple weeks. The boys were on vacation last week and we had company over the weekend, my family visiting from New Jersey, which is always nice. Unfortunately, my sister and her family couldn’t make it so the boys were a little bummed to not see their other cousins as well. This week the boys were back in school, but we still had company visiting with us. Our goddaughter, along with three friends and her mother came up during their winter break (of course the weeks didn’t coincide) to go skiing. I hope that the girls had a good time, since we had a good time hosting them. It was nice to have the hormones in the house tip in favor of estrogen for a change — as you can imagine I am sorely outnumbered most of the time. They left today after we had a nice girl’s lunch in Manchester.
Tonight into tomorrow night we’re forecast for a storm. The weather is forecasting about a foot of snow, lots of wind and blowing and drifting. Each time I look at the forecast, they are inching up the accumulation predictions, which is more than fine with me. I love, love, love a good “no one is going anywhere” snowstorm because it’s almost like Mother Nature telling us all to just slow down and relax. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature, as so many have learned during this very snowy winter across much of the country. I think that sometimes she just wanted to remind us of who, really is in charge. It is most certainly not us.
So….with an impending storm and cold blustery weather planned, it seems like a good excuse to hunker down and enjoy the winter before it’s over and mud season rears its ugly, messy, goopy head.
I am not talking Buster Poindexter or The Cure lyrics – depending upon your musical taste — I’m talking the weather. Looks like summer is making a comeback and going out on Labor Day with a bang.
Despite getting a late start, the garden is doing great. The past few nights we’ve enjoyed fresh lettuce, cucumbers, broccoli and snow peas.
This head of broccoli measured at least 8 inches across – one head was enough for all of us for dinner. Chicken and goat poop are good for the garden evidently.
So much for that fall weather – the tomatoes must have a leg up with Mother Nature. The forecast here is calling for record breaking temperatures mid week in the 90s. Add watering to the list of things to do during the week.
It’s been a long week. One of those weeks that you get tangled up in and forget what day it is and it’s not just because the boys were off from school. We have been in and out and away. Those days in New Jersey, while weekdays, felt like weekend days, which now makes the weekend days feel completely lost. I am not the only one that feels this way, since I had to correct the boys a couple times since they apparently have lost track of time and days as well.
The weather here is a mix of snow and rain – it seems that Mother Nature can’t make up her mind. Yesterday there were snowflakes the size of snowballs falling from the sky and then rain, back to snow and well, you get the picture. That is going to be the pattern for the next few days and temperatures won’t even hit the mid 40s. Good days to be indoors with a book or magazine and the fire.
Tomorrow we are all back to our routines – up before its light and kids off to school – us to work. Crank up the gears and get things moving again – next break will be summer vacation and hopefully there will be no snow by then.
Today marks the day that day and night are roughly equal in length. It is the vernal equinox, where the sun was directly over the equator. The result is that the length of time that we are exposed to daylight and then night are equal, or roughly equal, in length. The actual equinox, where the sun is directly over the equator will occur at 1:32 p.m. here in the Eastern Daylight zone.
There is a rumor that during the vernal equinox you can stand an egg on end, however, that has pretty much been disproven, since with time and patience, one can stand an egg on end at any time during the year, not just during the equinox. There is evidently no special gravity present during this time that would account for an egg’s ability to stand on end … or dance… or do anything special.
Vernal equinox marks the first day of spring. A rebirth of the earth, a time that Mother Nature shakes off winter like a bear coming out of hibernation and shrugging off the sleepiness of winter.
There are many different celebrations and many of the holidays that we know are set around the equinox. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox.
World Storytelling Day, preserving the art of oral storytelling is celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox or March 20th this year. It is celebrated all over the world on this day and originated in Sweden in 1991. It is a day to tell stories and promote the art of storytelling, one of the most ancient of all art forms. Go ahead, share some stories today – Happy Spring! (By the way, we STILL have snow here.)
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- Vernal Equinox 2010: First Day Of Spring INFO, TIME (PHOTOS) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Springtime, blossom by blossom – soon? (guardian.co.uk)
Winter would be quite drab and boring if it were not for the snow. Without the beautiful decorations provided by Mother Nature there would be little purpose for the cold weather. For my purpose, winter exists solely for snow. Living in a climate where it is cold and drab and without the fluffy white stuff, would be quite honestly, pointless in my opinion. In that event, one should live where it doesn’t really get cold.
Last night, Mother Nature re-decorated the woods as evidenced on my ski this morning. These branches were blocking the trial and I knew that I had to take a moment to take a picture, because the scene wouldn’t last forever.
It’s interesting to watch how Mother Nature knows when its time. I swear that this weekend alone, the leaves on a lot of trees have started to turn. While the weather has been relatively warm during the day, we have had cool nights and chilly mornings – the telltale signs of autumn. Also last night, you could smell wood burning, evidently, someone in these parts felt it was cool enough to start a fire.
We have friends up this weekend. I also got to meet a friend. Ptcakes the author of Where Did the Time Go? blog and I met in person on Saturday morning after a couple unsuccessful previous attempts to meet. She and her family were up in our neck of the woods for a camping trip. We have read each other’s blogs quite regularly. Our lives at different points in time over the past year or so have taken on a parallel universe feel and we have often sympathized with and cheered each other. It is unusual to feel so connected to someone that I never even saw a picture of prior to Saturday, and yet, it is apparent that friendships can spring from common bonds that span distance. We had a great chat, shared some coffee and stories, filling in some of the blanks that our respective blog posts mentioned but didn’t necessarily completely explain.
We also went to the fair or for those of you not from around these parts, The Vermont State Fair in Rutland. Interesting how a bunch of kids that so wanted to go to the fair to go on rides could be so indecisive when they arrived but amazingly, when us moms and dads extracted ourselves from the picture, everything became a different world. We explored the various exhibits, did some great people watching and generally had a good time. The place was busy, but then it was a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Yesterday, we went raspberry picking at Mad Tom Orchard in East Dorset with our friends, the Zummos who were up for the weekend. Carolina raspberries are ripe and since I missed out earlier in the year, I promised myself that I would get out to pick berries for raspberry jam, which is our favorite.
Still shaking off the warm cozy feeling of having two weeks of unstructured laziness. It is hard to wake up back on schedule, although we really didn’t sleep in during vacation but it is still the fact of KNOWING that you have to get up at a certain time.
Guess that I am rescheduling my check-up yet again since Mother Nature is evidently seeing fit to shower us with another winter storm. Evidently from tonight into Thursday it will be a little bit of everything that comes frozen and since I cannot spend 3 days in NJ, I will have to reschedule once again.
At least evidently this time, NJ is supposed to be getting winter weather as well with ice, so I don’t think that it will be quite so strange to the doctor’s office that I am canceling.
Oh Mother Nature, you are really messing with me.