Wednesday September 03, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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White out

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White out

 

A cold wind plastered vehicles and buildings with fresh driven snow.

Farmer advised I delay morning chores until visibility improved; we couldn’t see the barn.

I was glad that my sister and her family had visited the day before, glad that this was a Sunday and we didn’t need to travel, glad that the children were all home, glad we had electricity, heat in our house and plenty to eat.

Farmer cursed the wind and muttered about his mile-long list of things to get done and how the (imagine many expletives here) weather just wouldn’t cooperate.

Minus 40 C wind-chills have been particularly hard on cattle, and bundling up as best I could, even a few minutes of exposure around the edge of my glasses meant the cold burned my skin.

I won’t go on and on here about climate change, and the particularly harsh winds we’ve dealt with this winter, accompanying constant high and low pressures in a train of predictably difficult weather. I’m just saying it's been a good winter to stay home, get cozy and be happy.

But how long would we last if we lost power and gas?

The answer to that question is not pleasant.

Sure we could all have solar panels, but we don’t. Nor are our houses built with enough insulation or passive solar gain to sustain us. We don’t have a back up wood stove either. We would be “whited out.”

For years I’ve been on this quest to find a doable way of escaping oil and gas reliance, of being free from needing the dirtiest fuels, and thus contributing to climate change, just by living inside a regular energy wasting house.

I’ve read books and studied websites about building with straw, rammed earth, old tires and cans, and even heating green houses with chickens and rabbits. Recently I enrolled in a new course called Permaculture Design, which is based on bio-mimicry – the art and science of observing how nature functions and recreating those same patterns to solve our problems.

As I study, many lessons the garden has already taught me resurface. It’s exciting to find practical, affordable information like this at such a time.

After even this frightening winter, nature will go on flourishing here. I’ll be chasing her, begging to learn exactly how she does it, hoping one day I learn to live with her, instead of surviving on non-renewable resources being burned at unprecedented speed.

 


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