written by Arjuna da Silva
The biggest snowstorm in close to forty years visited us this past December, just in time for the Solstice. Yes, it was a white Kwanzaa (hmm…that’s another story!*), and a deep one too. We received over a foot of the White Blessing, and proceeded to dwell in below-freezing temps 24/7 for almost two weeks. In the midst of it, came rain (I guess it must have gotten above freezing for an hour or two), which then froze. Trees were down all along the state-maintained roads, and there were major delays while utility trucks from as far away as Alabama worked their chain saw magic to clear them. Our own tree damage was not that severe, and our “fellas” were out on the tractor giving us the option to test our tires on our own roads pretty quickly. It probably took a week before most of us dared to venture out—the bamboo on Another Way near the Forest Garden, which always hangs low when there’s an ice storm or snow, didn’t rebound and had to be chopped to the ground for the first time ever, so we could pass.
Overall, we were pretty cozy and content, and we know that the White Blessing is just what the water table and the soil need for extra nourishment. There hasn’t been much snow here in many years. Oh, but then the thawing—paths and roads as mushy as mud stew. Gravel patches to get through the worst of it are all we can expect until the roads do their own version of “mending” and are solid enough again to let repairs last.
Yes, water lines also froze. Folks in outlying neighborhoods on newer water systems offered showers and fill-ups, and folks hunkered down by their woodstoves, washing less and (we hope, anyway) cuddling more.
In January there was more snow, and the sun didn’t give us a full day of brightness for the first half of the month. Generators back up valiant batteries sucking what they can from PV panels, and the micro-hydro system tunnels along merrily. Clearly, we haven’t been hit hardest by this unseasonal beginning to Winter—folks elsewhere are experiencing serious losses. Our hearts (and pennies) go out to all who are suffering from unstable weather patterns and the shifting of Earth’s underside. Stay safe, y’all, and cozy, and let us know how you’re doing this year, wherever you are.
* About the other seasonal celebrations, after the gala Solstice gathering at the White Owl, we gave ourselves a taste of Chanukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa during those snow-covered times. In particular, Amakiasu and Ayo made a beautiful Kwanzaa ceremony for us in the Council Hall, combining background, ritual and story, which the delightful Forest Children enacted with great aplomb (i.e., “self-confident assurance”).
Arjuna da Silva is an Earthaven founder, Culture’s Edge president, and former Airspinner. She is coordinating the Natural Building School and Fundamentals of Permaculture workshops at Earthaven this summer.
Amakiasu, Ayo, bamboo, council hall, Kwanzaa, micro-hydro, snow, solstice, White Owl