Winter in Massachusetts

IMG_8345.JPGThe above photo is a snowdrift out our front door the morning after winter storm Grayson, which thankfully had simmered waaaaaayyy down by the time it arrived here.  Winter in Massachusetts is no joke.   We knew this before we ever finalized our decision to move here.  In fact, we knew enough that once the decision was made we spent close to a thousand dollars on new coats, snow pants, boots, gloves, yak tracks, and wool socks.  Just today I used every last one of the items we bought for me and I have never once had cause to regret any one of those purchases.

There are all the little inconveniences that come with living where the serious winters are: things like dry skin and hair, occasional bloody noses, digging your sidewalk out when it snows, and having to start your car fifteen minutes before you go anywhere so everything can thaw out.

Then there are the bigger things.  Like what is your plan for when the bomb cyclone hits and your power may go out for days?  Do you have a plan for when the water to your barn freezes in the pipes under the road? Or how will your 16 year old dog make it down the hill in two feet of snow and wild gusts of wind four or five times a day to use the bathroom?  And how often do you check on your horses to make sure they aren’t turning into icicles?  Did you know that the fuel in your basement tank that heats your whole house can get too cold and thicken to the point where your furnace cuts out?

Here’s what we learned from winter storm Grayson:

  1. Our neighbors (who we already knew were the best) are the best!  We had no plan for what to do if our power went out (we would have had less than one night to do something because all our pipes would have frozen in a matter of hours), but they offered to share their generator with us (literally moving it back and forth between houses) if the power went out in the middle of the storm while it wasn’t safe to travel and buy our own generator.  Thankfully, the power did not go out and we can buy a generator of our own before the next big storm!
  2. Sadly, we didn’t have a plan (though we sure as hell have one for next year!) regarding the pipes to the barn.  So, for now, we are hauling buckets from the house to fill the tank outside and the buckets in their stalls until things thaw out.  That said, I did develop a system involving our sled that works like a charm and has taken a lot of the sweat and tears out of the water-hauling job!
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  3. Our sixteen year old dog makes it down the hill several times a day because we dig him a path several times a day!  The wind blows the snow back into what we’ve dug about every three hours and we have to dig it again, but such is life and the dogs are so worth it.  : )
  4. You check on your horses every time you start to worry again, which happens to be every three or four hours for me, but might be different depending on your circumstances and/or personality.  ; )
  5. The fuel for your furnace can, will, and did thicken to the point where our furnace cut out, but luckily the repair man came (even though it was about midnight) and educated us about an additive you can put in the tank to prevent this from happening.  So we were back up and running within a couple of hours and suffered no ill effects.
  6. Lastly, the importance of having and being good neighbors simply can’t be overstated.  I have been stunned again and again by the kindness of the people we are blessed to live by and I’m finally beginning to understand that it’s just part of living in this wild, beautiful place.  We all check in on each other and we all pitch in to make sure everyone makes it through.  I love living here and being part of this kind, generous community.  : )

As to those minor inconveniences, I took a nice, hot shower tonight, slathered up in cocoa butter, poured myself a mimosa (or momosa, as I prefer to call them) and am now curled up on the couch with my laptop and my dog while my husband runs errands with our little one.  So, for tonight at least, all is well.  : )

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