On Cold

It’s slipper sock weather.

The floor is like ice this morning. Quickly throwing on a sweater, I try to forget that this week is scheduled to turn much colder, reminiscent of our first winter off grid. That was more than two years ago, when we began our adventure. And in this time, I have learned to love one particular thing about the cold – outdoor refrigeration.

Well, refrigeration may not be the right word. I can scarely believe it’s been over two years since I have had a working refrigerator. There is a real art to storing food for 8 people in a cooler, and I assure you it is an art I have not yet mastered. Running out of ice, waterlogged cheese, chicken juice leaking into the water…despite of my very best efforts, these are regular occurrences I have learned to accept. But in winter….

During the cruel heat of the Texas summers, the coolers are kept indoors. Not that is much (or any) less sweltering in the house, but at very least the roof keeps the intense sun from slow-cooking the cooler and its delicate contents. In winter, when the cold finally sets in, the cooler is abruptly set on a forced migration to the front porch. I can’t say for sure whether it appreciates being kicked out of the house, but I am so deeply grateful to reduce our ice runs from every single morning to once or twice a week. 

There is one caveat. If, say, you happen to be starving and it happens to be pouring down rain while it is bafflingly also below freezing outside, well, you have a choice to make. Would you rather be full, or warm and dry? When your stomach is the empty vessel in question, the decision is murky, filled with a careful weighing of pros and cons, along with several assessments of local weather radars. When the growling tummy belongs to your doe-eyed 4 year old, well, that’s a different story entirely. 


A Slower Season

Rain drops slide down the window. The comfortable gray light from an overcast sky fills the room with a sleepy glow. 

It’s winter, well, nearly, and the cold is finally arriving. I can’t complain. The fall has been unusually warm, affording us extra time to prepare for inclement weather. Not that we’re prepared. I don’t think you’re ever quite ready for winter when you live off grid. There is always more firewood to collect, animal shelters to mend, something to repair. But not today.

Rainy days in the country mean rest – forced rest for my husband who never lacks for a project to work on. Laundry can’t be hung to dry. Animals are idle, huddling together in their houses or under trees. Everything stands still for a day or two, except perhaps cooking, dishes, and keeping up with the mud brought in on rain boots. And tending the fire, which my husband and the boys see to diligently.

I suppose there’s always paperwork to catch up on, bills to pay, all the distractions of adult life, but today, may they be forgotten. Three giggly little girls are eager to snuggle under blankets and read princess stories, and, like the rain, these moments won’t last forever.