A Northwoods Winter Wonderland

Winter woods.

Winter woods.

Northwoods Journal

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Mark and I and the three dogs left home around 5:15 yesterday evening.  There was extremely heavy traffic all the way to Frankenmuth and then it started to snow.  It was the kind of snow that can quickly turn into black ice, so Mark was very tense and the drive always seems to take forever in the dark.  There was what looked to be a bad accident on I75 just north of exit 202 where we get off.  We couldn’t see the accident because of the darkness but we saw lots of flashing lights up ahead when we got off the expressway.  I was thankful when we pulled safely into our driveway at nearly 10 p.m.  There was about one or two inches of dry, fluffy snow on the ground, which gave the dogs pause for just a moment or two!

It was 25 degrees in the trailer when we arrived.  Mark and Pete had come up for the opening of deer hunting season and before they left, Mark had set up the wood burner, so all he had to do was strike a match.  I had also purchased a new oil-filled radiant heater as one of our old ones finally went kaput when the guys were up for hunting.  Unpacking and putting everything away was time consuming, much harder to do when you are wearing a heavy coat!  It was after 11:30 by time we tried to get the dogs calmed down and climbed between some very cold flannel sheets.  The temperature had only risen to 40 degrees when we went to bed.  I had the electric blanket on high all night!  Since it was so cold, Mark allowed Daisy and Ruby to stay on the bed between us, which didn’t work out too well for either one of us.  I have a hard enough time sleeping on that little “full-size” bed when I have half the room, I found it nearly impossible when I had less than a third of the mattress!  I don’t think I fell soundly asleep until 6 a.m. when Mark got up to go hunting.

I stayed abed until 8 o’clock.  There was a light snow slowly falling but thankfully the living room was toasty when I got up – around 70 degrees.  The wood burner that came with this place is massive for the size of the living room and really cranks out the heat when it gets going.  We have one radiant heater in the kitchen and one at the other end of the trailer near the bedroom, so the temperature is staying between 65 and 75.

Mark had told me that the birds pretty much cleaned out all the seed while he was here for hunting, so I brought up a big supply of sunflower seeds, peanuts in the shell and also shelled peanuts.  So, first thing after I got up, I filled the feeders and then sat with my coffee and homemade pumpkin-apple bread in front of the kitchen window.  It took about an hour or so for the birds to arrive, but we’ve had a steady stream ever since.

After my first cup of coffee, I got out all the things for my harvest tree.  This is not my original idea, I stole it from my sister Nancy when I saw hers on a visit to her home.  I just loved the idea!  And since I never get Christmas in the northwoods, I thought a harvest tree would be the next best thing.  I’ve been putting it up for about 6 years now and it always looks so festive.

My Harvest Tree

My Harvest Tree

Mark came in from hunting just as I was putting up my tree.  He said nothing was moving out in the woods at all and it was very windy.  He made us Spam and eggs for breakfast (needless to say he did NOT use the Coleman stove out on the porch!) while I finished the tree and put out my other Thanksgiving decorations.  We sat at the kitchen table and enjoyed our breakfast while we watched the antics of at least a half-dozen blue jays, hairy woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatches and chickadees.

White-breasted nuthatch on the suet.

White-breasted nuthatch on the suet.

This is about the best photo of a chickadee I've ever managed to get!

This is about the best photo of a chickadee I’ve ever managed to get!

Late morning Mark decided it was time to mess with the pump and see if he could get the water going.  He had turned on the light bulb in the pump house before he left for hunting, but after priming the pump, no luck, it is frozen.  So, he got out the giant enamel pot and filled it with snow and put it on top of the wood burner.  We’ve been in this position before, so no need to panic, yet!  Thankfully it is just the two of us.  If we had the whole family here, I would be panicking!  So far the outside temperature has not risen above 20 degrees and it is very windy.

Daisy was nagging for some sort of exercise so I dug out the snow pants and we bundled up to take them up the road a bit.  I did not bring my winter boots because when I checked the forecast yesterday, they were not calling for snow!  Thankfully my hiking boots are waterproof and with two pair of socks on, my toes didn’t get too cold.  We couldn’t go far anyway, with all the hunters out and about, we stayed within the boundaries of our “sub-division” and didn’t go past onto the state land.

With the pump still not working, Mark said we should take all our empty gallon jugs into town and fill them up at Freddie’s.  Thankfully we keep a good amount of empties under the kitchen sink.  (We try to recycle our plastics and metals, but it’s very difficult up here as there are not any drop-off locations nearby.)  We got 10 gallons for only .39 cents a gallon, and we’ve managed to melt several gallons of snow water, so at least we can flush the toilet!  We also made a stop at Family Dollar to see if they had any boots, but they did not.  There aren’t many options here in the northwoods – Atlanta basically has the grocery store (Freddie’s) and a Family Dollar.  Even if we drove to Lewiston, they don’t have many retail outlets, either.  I got the brilliant idea to hang a string of Christmas lights around the porch roof and Mark agreed, so we bought a strand and he hung them when we got back.  He already had the nails in place, since we have a string of bobber lights that we normally hang in the summer.  He even had installed an outlet up near the roof!  I’m excited because we can’t do outdoor Christmas lights at home.

Neither one of us was hungry for lunch so mid-afternoon I got out a bunch of snacks and we munched a little before he bundled up to go back out hunting.  While he was gone the dogs snoozed and I leafed through a new Food Network magazine, kept the pots on the wood burner filled with snow and started on a new Christmas novella idea.  I was just starting dinner when Mark came back.  He found a good spot to hunt with plenty of signs of deer.  He saw a big one right before he was ready to head in, but by then the light was too far gone for him to get a good shot.  I made a pot of cheesy potato soup for supper and a pan of corn bread, the perfect meal for a cold, snowy night!

With limited water, we are waiting to wash all the dishes so we decided to play a couple games of Sequence.  I know it’s silly, but it brought me so much joy to look up and see the Christmas lights glowing around the porch!  After our game, I stuck my nose in a book and Mark worked his logic puzzle.  He was tired from his early morning after very little sleep last night, so it was off to bed early.

Christmas lights!

Christmas lights!

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