Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Winter Patterns

Suddenly, we arrive here. Though the 70-degree temperatures lately are deceiving, the shortness of the days and the crispy chill at night is presenting winter as arrived. The darkest season presents some different daily patterns than the warm, long days of summer. We have to watch our power usage, and therefore the weather, closely. This significantly affects our ability to do laundry. We need not only full sun on the solar panels to run the machine, but sun to dry the load outdoors. With the days so short, the laundry is still cool and damp an hour before sunset when the dew drops. We can barely squeeze one load onto our indoor drying space. So we have to get strategic. Sometimes, a day is this morning, though foggy, we could plainly see it would be sunny. We ran the laundry, only now, high clouds obscure the sun, and the temperature has fallen. Onto the indoor racks we go!

Winter also changes other routines: we keep a fire going most of the time; we cook dinner in the fading light or darkness; we wear waterproof footwear; I no longer visit the garden daily; we watch more movies at night; we spend hours poring over seed and nursery catalogs fantasizing about spring, fruit trees, and edible goodies; we see more of our neighbors than during the summer as everyone's projects have slowed down; and we prepare for the coming of the light with much social revelry.

We also spend time worrying about the fish, and about climate change. The river mouth opened in November, but it just closed again the other day. Spawning surveyors are reporting that adults are spawning in the mainstem, and that none have made it past Honeydew. The river flows peaked after our last storm and have continued to decline, meaning the salmon can't get to their spawning gravels in headwaters streams. And it seems so darn warm. People keep saying that it didn't used to be like this. And maybe they're right. But the crazy thing I realized today is that no one has been here long enough to truly know. We are absent the long term, generational connection to times past, there is no oral history about it, and our mobile culture confuses us: I don't remember it being this way, but I have spent winters in 4 locations in Pennsylvania, 3 in Connecticut, 4 in L.A., 2 in Danville, 7 in Santa Cruz, and 7 in Petrolia. But even given this, that I have no roots here, something seems different, not right. There are alarm bells going off in my viscera, at my deepest level the worst yet to come? It's so difficult as a single human in the flow of it all to get a sense of where the river is leading...

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