Okay, so I acknowledge that the “feel it in my bones” sentiment is more due to barometric pressure changes than temperature fluctuations, but the greater point I’m trying to make is that I’m out of synch with mother nature. Let me explain.
This may have something to do with flying from Hopkins Village, Belize to Casper, Wyoming USA in one long afternoon. I’ve tested the tropics-to-mountains theory several times, and I can confidently say that our species has not evolved enough in the last 50 years of frequent air travel to make it a comfortable process. There is nothing natural in going from sand between your toes to 10° before windchill in a twelve-hour window. The next day dawned with a high of 10°, which I discovered by checking my phone. Oddly, this is exactly my issue.
Yes, technology like insulation and weather reports on my cell phone can be a wonderful thing. But I honestly had no clue that it was below 0° when I woke up. Why would I? I have a well-insulated house with central heating (and air-conditioning, I might add). We keep it at a conservative 65° in the winter, which lately seems both too cold and too warm.
Before moving in with my now-husband, I lived in a 1920’s log cabin in Wilson, Wyoming (7 miles outside of Jackson). It was about 700 sq. ft., had authentic paned windows and was generally a little slice of heaven. The main room was heated with a propane fireplace with an on/off switch in the back and there were a few rarely-used baseboard heaters in the siderooms (but only the bathroom had an actual door).
The on/off switch on the fireplace is significant. There was no thermostat. This means when the temperature dipped below zero, you could see your breath inside sometimes in the morning. Waking up involved a epic battle of wills that usually went something like this:
Alarm goes off. Oh god it’s cold. My nose is freezing. Better hit snooze. Alarm goes off. (potentially repeat up to 3-9 times). Grab long underwear in mad dash and dive back in bed with clothes under covers with me to preheat. Put on said clothes under the covers. Jump out of bed and turn on fireplace and teapot. Add more clothes, potentially a hat. Feed Wendell, let him outside (it takes a lot to make a Lab cold). Crazy dog.
So why on earth would I miss that? Because I was constantly aware of what was going on with the natural world. High winds whistled under the front door. When the paned glass started to glaze over on the inside, I knew I would be wearing expedition level mittens teaching ski school. And when my dog only went outside for two minutes at a time, I knew there would be no significant new snow until it warmed up*.
So are these nostalgic ramblings with the rose-colored glasses that the passage of times grants us optimistic humans? Maybe. Does this have something to do with copious amounts of time indoors due to lack of outdoor recreation options and lack of outdoor employment? Most likely. But I can’t help but think that some small primal part of me feels locked up from the natural world here in my insulated house with daily leashed dog walks.
Put-on-the-winter-fat-recipe-of-the-day: one pan dark chocolate chunk skillet cookie
* Subzero cold is almost always due to very high pressure and very dry air, making difficult conditions for snow.
So it’s not a conventional house – it’s a real-deal old log cabin. And it hasn’t been updated a whole lot since its inception in 1920 (aside from electricity and my high-speed wireless). As such, there is an appropriate flow of what I’d like to think of as “wildlife”.
It all started with the weasel. I was sitting at the kitchen table, reading, when I heard a noise coming from the bathroom. Looking over, I saw a small white face peeking out from behind the toilet. Like any rational being, I promptly jumped on top of the chair (because a weasel couldn’t possibly climb a chair) and started yelling at my boyfriend that there was “something” in the bathroom. He froze on the couch for a moment and the weasel cocked his head as they both wondered, “what’s wrong with her?”.
The boyfriend was beyond excited saying nonsensical things like “that’s why there’s no mice!” and “we can feed him- he’ll be like a pet”. I warmed to the idea that this was the reason there were no mice and we were careful not to startle him when he showed up every few weeks. Sadly, we never saw Snowflake past that winter, but he was only the first in a long line of critters that have acclimated me to life in a log cabin.
Fast forward to Friday morning, when I was laying in the place halfway between asleep and awake. I vaguely recognized a gnawing noise and thought I had a mouse. Forcing my brain towards alertness, I tried to identify the source of the gnawing from bed. Was he on the food shelves? The floor? The gnawing seemed to turn to a fluttering and I began to think perhaps I had a bat. Grabbing my phone and tentatively stepping into the kitchen, I dialed my boyfriend and said, “something is in my house.” He replied that if it was a bat, I would need to put on gloves and get a towel to capture him. My weak response was, “I don’t think I can do that.” He responded that since he was about 6 hours away, I would have to do it. I now have a new appreciation for pioneering women. It’s not that they were inherently fearless and courageous- it’s that they had no choice. So as a women with no choice, I approached the rustling area to discover a field mouse in the bottom of the trash. I covered the trash and brought it outside, where I spied my neighbor’s cat on their porch. Grabbing the cat and placing it directly in front of the garbage bin, I tipped it over and let the cat sniff. She smelled nothing and ambled away as the mouse ran the other direction, probably looping back towards my cabin.
The very next morning I was washing breakfast dishes and became aware of a buzzing happening in the kitchen window a few feet from my face. A crazy black and orange spider had just caught a common fly and was moving to wrap him up. I snapped a few pictures, and while I was reviewing them she disappeared with her kill to somewhere unbeknownst to me.
This is the wild Wyoming world I live in, but I’m feeling like my cabin could be portrayed in a pretty negative light. When my computer maladies are over, I pledge to post pictures of the fabulous views I share with rodents and bugs large and small. At the end of the day, there’s no place I’d rather be.