It has snowed so frequently this winter, and at such optimal temperatures for powder, that even in big, flat snow shoes Bryan sank 12-16 inches with every step. When he couldn’t find my snow shoes, I knew I’d have a tough time traversing the snow in the boots I was wearing, but it had to be done. Besides, at 15 degrees, my feet were getting cold so I was motivated to get to the cabin and start a fire. Bryan carefully retraced his footsteps, stomping down with each foot to compress the snow further so I could follow more easily, but even so, the smaller footstep of regular boots caused me to sink below my knees with most steps. Halfway to the cabin, huffing and puffing, I decided to crawl, in order to disperse the weight better across four limbs than two. That helped. Welcome home.
Once I stepped carefully across the spiky bear mat into the dark cabin, I was able to light a fire quickly in the woodstove, and feed it for about an hour with tinder and kindling to get a good bed of coals so larger chunks of birch wouldn’t suck up the heat and put it out. In two hours, the cabin had warmed up from +15 to +40 degrees F, but there the temperature sat for the next several hours. I shed my gloves, parka, and hat, but retained three layers of socks and tops and two layers of pants as I went about my interior tasks. Someone told me that the log walls have to warm up before the air within can do so. Perhaps that is the reason that it took the next five hours (!) for the temperature to inch up from 40 to 53. Meanwhile, I started a ham and pea soup (with water brought from town) in a cast iron pot on the woodstove. My theory is that half of staying warm is smelling warm scents – like smoke from the chimney and cooking and the cider I offered my thirsty husband when he rested occasionally between a dozen round-trip sled deliveries. Fortunately, he was able to retrieve all of the food before it started to snow. We left the new furniture on the iced lake until the next day.
Next, Bryan carved makeshift steps through the snow down to the back porch. His goal was to clear away enough snow from the back door to remove the bear bar and mat and open the door to reach the ten days of wood we had piled next to it. (The main woodpile is buried- a task for another day). Then he chopped steps down to the doors of the outhouse and the power shed. He was relieved to find that the battery bank, which stores power from the solar panels and wind turbine, was fully charged. In the outhouse, the toilet seat and top were frozen together and to the wooden bench below by a three inch deep circle of frost. I eased up the seats, knocked off the frost and installed a two inch thick ring of Styrofoam, which we use instead of the wooden seat in the winter. (The air pockets keep it from getting cold).