Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Transition to Winter

The leaves are down from the trees and although we haven't had a hard freeze yet there've been some frosts and winter is in the air. This is the time of year to get things done outside before the snow covers the ground. The wood needs to be moved and stacked and covered, yet ready to be taken in when the ground is covered with 2 feet of snow. Without enough space in the house, barn, or store to stack it, it must remain outside--mostly--and covered from the snow with a tarp, the eventual building of a woodshed waiting. In the late spring with the price of oil so high I decided to get four cords of wood in, plus another cord or so from trees that I felled and split. Now the price of oil is about 3/5 what it was then, but wood is still much less expensive to use than oil, the heat of wood from a woodstove is warmer and seems friendlier, and until the ground is covered with snow, heating with wood is not annoyingly inconvenient.

I don't know whether oil or wood contributes more to global warming. The issues with oil are fairly well known, but wood is not especially friendly to the environment either, as the smoke is polluting inside (a bit) and outside (considerable), while the felling of trees reduces their number and degrades the land unless one takes them just for thinning.

Besides moving wood, other winterizing activities involve putting the gardens to bed, putting up plastic storm windows to help keep heat in the store, and caulking and tightening up the windows and doors in the house.

People who know that I sometimes spend fall and winter here often assume that it's colder and snowier than it is, that conditions are harsher than they are. They can be harsh, but usually not from the cold and snow. When I lived in Minneapolis I went through six winters of much cold and snow. Here it occasionally gets below zero; there it got below thirty below. Here it snows, there it snowed a great deal. The ocean that surrounds the island and hugs the coast warms the ground and the air in winter, and the differences in temperature between this island and the mainland are a few degrees; go inland ten miles and the difference can be as much as ten degrees. If the winters here are harsh it's more because of ice; as the temperature hovers on both sides of freezing, the precipitation arrives as snow and as rain, but when the rain freezes on the ground it turns to ice. At that point walking around outside requires watchfulness.

Besides winter preparation I had planned to do some other things this fall, such as cutting branches on spruce trees overhanging the edges of the fields so that I can mow more. Every year the branches encroach more. Some overhanging branches on the roads and paths back of the property also need cutting. When the snow falls on them they hang low and then don't spring back all the way. I guess they're tired.

No comments:

Post a Comment