Friday, April 15, 2011

Post Traumatic Winter Syndrome

The last two winters here in western north carolina have been rough. And that is extremely understated. The first bad one, I was around others... this last one, that is now pulling it's cold clutches out of the air, i did on my own. This winter raped me. Harsh, maybe i shouldn't use that word - but it comes something close to that... the way a bad car accident leaves you with this weird changed feeling. The way some near death moment makes you go OMG, ah HA! Or the way it feels after a bad break up. I make these comparisions because the experience was so intense, it took something from me... something I can not even begin to describe in words. It also gave me something back, something there also are no words for.... something mysterious i have yet to identify. All I know is something is gone, and something new has come to take it's place. A winter vet, is what i consider myself. It can sound dramatic, but if you think it's not that bad - come on up here next winter and trade places with me (will be great! Like those 80's movies where people swap bodies!).... come when it's -20 degree winds, no running water for a month, no insulation in the walls, keep the fire going or freeze, you can carry groceries in waist deep snow and start getting hypothermia with a mile of steep hill to push through still (have no food or get up there!). And go without seeing other people for weeks at a time. And hardest of all, all the planning you did isn't going to be enough... no matter how well you prepare shit happens. Many friends wanted me to put this place up for sale because winter here will always be harder then most the rest of western north carolina (due to my elevation/location)... but here is spring. Beautiful magical perfection. No for sale sign yet. Every cold wind that comes as the weather changes, is nothing to me now - but a reminder of all that changed inside me. I neither fear it, enjoy it, or loathe it because I have come out to the other side. But when i think about the winters to come... I have post traumtic winter syndrome. I feel the worst loathing & i want to run. No more! No more! I won't do another winter alone here. I have no idea what will happen between now and next year but I know this much, I will make that one wish happen. (It's human nature to move towards always making our lives better in one way or another, so i will indulge...) Details be damned. They are just the breaths between the action. *********************************************************** xoxox **footnote** "A body swap is a storytelling device seen in a variety of fiction, most often in television shows and movies, in which two people (or beings) exchange minds and end up in each other's bodies. Alternatively, their minds may stay where they are as their bodies adjust. There are three distinct types of body swapping. Switches can be caused by magic items such as amulets, heartfelt wishes, or just strange quirks of the universe. The switches typically reverse after the subjects have expanded their world views, gained a new appreciation for each other's troubles by literally "walking in another's shoes" and/or caused sufficient amounts of farce."


Erik said...

It's really tough up here too, but not as bad as you have it. I can relate tho :(

Teresa Evangeline said...

What a brave woman you are to make it through the winter and to share your feelings about it openly. It's not always easy to explain to people that kind of isolation. You did so perfectly, simple, yet eloquent. I hope you either find a warmer place to be next winter or a companion to share it all with you.
Either way, enjoy the other seasons now emerging.

Sandy said...

Coming from someone who has spent 30 winters in arctic conditions here is some advice. You should expend some serious effort to insulate your place and water supply before next winter. It's not that bad of a job and will certainly help with the nastiest part of your winter problem and minimize the amount of fuel you need to stock up on. Why burn 5 cords a winter when one will suffice ?

Secondly, you should stock up on longer term supplies of non-perishable foods prior to winter. It's good disaster prep anyway, and will let you choose the time to restock supplies.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

I tried to do many of those things for this winter, based on how bad the last one was.... but always something falls short somewhere.

I do keep alot of non perishables, my special diet (medical diet) can complicate things things from time to time. But I am hoping to also build a root cellar in preperation too.
As for the insulation on the water pipes, that is first on the list of things to do... i have tons on there already & heat tape, everything people normally do around here, but it wasnt enough. Luckily i planned ahead and had put in the newest kind of PEX (or pecs) piping, which doesnt break in the cold. It pulls apart - but mine didn't even do that.

house insulation is a whole nother story, complication. First of all it takes $$$ to get some chemical free, eco, right for my climate, logical for the house as it is built, etc...
I had planned on getting sheeps wool, but it is so thick, all the house windows will have to be pulled out and the whole house will have to be re-built almost, new framing, new siding, re-installing the windows..... (which costs tons of $$$)
so i am re-thinking how to work with what is already in place.
I am thinking of building a new foundation under the house, and simply doing a layer of cordwood also.

I am open to suggestions for insulation - excluding hay bales, which mold horrible here with even a little moisture.

---- and really i think the worst thing about the winter, is doing it alone. Seriosly is worse then not having a bath for a month.

Anonymous said...

stark and real posting

between cold, struggle, alone, I can see why you would be traumatized

kind of a love-hate relationship

best to you in your contemplations

Andy from Oregon

Daniel Wexler said...

I don't get why you're not flooded with folk to help you build, dig, insulate etc. and visitors to keep you company. How hard is it to get up that hill in the winter?

perhaps a snow mobile, or even snow shoes, or you could build a little sleigh for Juju to pull.

mokihana said...

Leslie Dear One,

I hear your story, and know through my own long winter story just past (sometimes it gets close again when hail starts up in mid-April). Isolation does take something, and for me, it has left me with that character described in myth as the Pallas Athena ... the warrior woman nature that is in us all; but timing pulls her out of us, and circumstance coils like a serpent through us. A long lonely winter traumatizes no doubt. There are things you'll learn to do different. But, mostly I think, I am learning I'm a different me who will be different again with that next winter.

Happy to read your story from this side of winter. MOREL ON!