Weather watching

If I pad along a track that tries to stay close to the Earth’s heartbeat, I see everything differently.

The weather – sunny . . . windy . . . rainy . . . frosty – it all makes a very immediate difference if daily life works in rhythm with what is natural. 

Having no washing machine because of building works meant washing clothes in the bath, as I used to do.  Nothing has been straightforward.  Some of the time the water had to be turned off and the hot water tank drained down; much of the time the electricity was off . . . on again . . . off again . . . Sometimes I would be boiling a kettle and the electricity suddenly cut –

So, as it’s been cold and rainy outside I cleaned out the grate of the luxury fire and set up the storm kettle indoors so we could boil water to fill up the thermos and thus have hot drinks and water to wash self, crocks etc.  The water is fetched by a bucket from either outside or the bathroom upstairs.

I planned to have a bath then wash my clothes in the bath water to save wasting water, and a day came when the wind blew, the rain held off, and I needed a bath/shower!  But on that very morning our neighbours builders set to work with their angle grinder just the other side of the garden wall (we did our side in the autumn).   Cement dust blew across the garden with every gust of wind!   Not a day for hanging out washing, then!  After that it rained again.  I gave up and had a normal shower.

But yesterday I got self and my clothes bathed – no builder, no rain, sunshine, brisk wind, dry breezy night, sunshine and wind still this morning. 

Since we had the solar panels on our roof, we don’t run the furnace for heating or hot water very often – we rely on the sunshine in the summer and autumn, and in the winter just occasionally turn on the water heater for showers, and even more occasionally the central heating if it’s raining out and someone has a lot of washing to dry in time for a trip away or has completely run out of trouser to wear for work or some such emergency.  So, though this has been an exceptionally mild winter, we have got in the habit of dressing very warmly indoors rather than relying on central heating.  We have the woodstove in the evening, and it lifts the cold and damp throughout the house, but our bedrooms can be chilly!  I sit in bed to work, and I wear fleece trousers, a vest (UK – US peeps I mean underwear not waistcoat), a high-necked fleece, and a big thick fleece hoodie over the top.  And two pairs of socks.  And at night, flannel pyjamas.

Thus my washing in its waterlogged state is challengingly thick and heavy!  But that brisk wind had it almost dry, and now it’s festooned on the airers I have rigged up around the garret finishing off.

The result of all this is that weather now means so much more to me than ‘nice day’, ‘dull day’ etc.  It makes all the difference to the management of the veggie garden and the wormeries (worms can’t cope with too much cold or heat), to the choice to do the laundry or not, whether to walk or take the bus or just give up and stay at home, whether to sit out on the step and boil up for tea in the storm kettle or clear the grate instead, whether there is rainwater collected for watering plants and soaking dishes or everything has to come from the tap.  I notice more and am more tuned in to the turning of the year.  It feels good.

I am also, incidentally, filled with admiration for Diana Lorence’s hearth management.

She has beautifully sculpted ash, artistically arranged anthracite and firewood, and a modest stash of evenly cut size-graduated fuel waiting out on the porch.  This does her for all her cooking and water-heating.

To appreciate how impressive this is, you should look at our hearth, 

and bear in mind that we have the back-up of a solar-augmented electric mini-oven, hotplate and kettle – and Diana doesn’t!  Go, girl!  Life, you are doing it well!!

(Image of Diana Lorence's fireplace at Innermost House taken from the album on the Innermost House Facebook page; also here on the main website.)


365 Day 22 (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, see here)

Another statue of the BVM.  I like it.  I like her.  So what?  I salute her in my mind.  Don’t need this statue.  I feel the same about family photos: I love my family so very much, but I have no photos of them up around the house – they are sewn into my heart, and that is where the pictures of them are.