Friday, January 2, 2015

The Caretaker Returns

Caretaker’s Log, Monday, December 29, 2014

I helicopter in. While I’m snapping pictures and looking for wolves on the ridges I think, I have such an amazing life. Then, I recognize the orange faced ridge, I recognize the fence line. The trip over the mountains only takes about fifteen minutes. So quick. We scare three moose on our descent. The helicopter blades kick up the snow as the pilot lands us in the front yard. Kathy and her family load up as soon as my things are unloaded. We exchange quick, last-minute information and then they're gone. The helicopter blows snow into my face, freezes my camera.

Now I'm alone. The silence is extraordinary. There's the crackle of the fire and an occasional thump of wind.

I unpack my things and rearrange the living room to suit my needs. I check out what's here and what's been left for me. I have better food than last time.

It's a bit scary to think of all this time, six months here all on my own. I had gotten used to people again.

The cat is hidden away somewhere.

It's 5° outside and the sun is getting low.

When I check the weather I see the Pleiades in the East. I see Cassiopeia overhead.

At 6:40 PM the temperature is -7.6. I'm burning a hot fire.

When I go to bed the temperature is -12 and falling. I sleep with nine blankets. Around midnight I wake up burning hot as a furnace. I shed one layer of clothes but none of the blankets.

I’ve returned to staticy hair and dry skin.

Welcome back to the Darwin, Caretaker.

Caretaker’s Log, Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I get up at 8:00 AM.

It's -26.2°. The kitchen cold water pipe wants to freeze. I run the water until the pressure is right again. Now the thermometer says -29.8. This is the coldest weather I've ever been out in. I put on two pairs of long johns, a sweatshirt, my jacket, and my coat. I put on gloves, hat, and a scarf.

The cat looks miserable and cold. She meows at me through the window. She sneezes. I want to bring her in and set her in front of the fire I'm getting up to a fine blaze.

There are rainbow arcs around the rising Sun. I've never seen that before. I find out they're called Sun Dogs.

I make coffee. I have three scrambled eggs and some granola for breakfast. I work a crossword puzzle.

I stay inside all day except to check the Hydro system, give fresh water to the cat-- it freezes fast when the temperatures are in the negatives-- and to record the weather.

I have allergy symptoms all day. I hope it's just the travel, the time change, the weather adjustments that are wreaking havoc on me.

Katie calls around 5:00 PM.

I have carrots and hummus for a snack.

It gets all the way up to 1°. A veritable heatwave.

I organized the kitchen, putting things away in order to make my food easier to access.

I start a puzzle I find upstairs. It's brand-new, still in the plastic wrap. Only 500 pieces.

When I go to check the weather I look up. The stars are extra bright in the cold--clear and sharp. I feel horrible for the cat I e-mail Karen to ask if I'm allowed to bring her in. I don't get an immediate response.

I eat lox, rice crackers, and an avocado for dinner. I open up a box of wine.

It's 10:35 PM and already at -30.7. I hope to goodness the pipes don't freeze. I go to get the cat but she's not in her little house. I trust she's gone to a warmer place to sleep.

Caretaker’s Log, Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I wake up at 3:00 AM and decide to go run the kitchen sink water so won't freeze in the -33° temps. I start the fire up again and then go back to bed.

In the morning at 8:30, the faucet has an icicle coming out of the spigot. The hot and cold water handles are frozen solid. I put the space heaters to work and call Karen to find out what else I need to do. In the midst of that, I build a fire and make breakfast.

The cat has survived the night. I take her fresh water and pet her on the sides of her cheeks.

As part of the sink unfreezing process I clean out the grease trap. That's one of my monthly chores out of the way.

There's a moose in the west pasture. I watch it get water and make its way back up into the woods.
I talk with Katie, Michaela, and Grandmama.

It's been a full day already and it's only 3:00.

I checked the weather. Orion is rising in the East.

My New Year's Eve party is barbecue potato chips and one extra glass of wine. Caretaker, party of one.

It's New Year's Eve. I go to bed at 11:00.

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