Monday, January 27, 2014

Challenges Are Good For Us, Right?

There was an article in the recent edition of our local paper in which the superintendent of schools was asked, "What is the criteria for closing school because of inclement weather?"  The answer was an actual temperature reading of -35° or lower or a wind chill factor of -50°.  (Four feet of snow would probably do it, too!)

Schools are closed again today.  I think this is the fifth day so far this winter.

We were apparently in a "warm" part of the county as we had only -16° overnight.  Many areas not too far from us had -25°.  The part that made it nasty was that we all had bad winds again.  

I think our high was around noon when the temp was -8°.  The wind had died and the sun was out.  That all helped make things more tolerable.

Even getting out for some fresh air and exercise has been challenging so far this winter.  In the past we've gone out cross-country skiing at -20° (I think we must have been much younger . . . and dumber), but I'm having a tough time convincing myself anything longer than a short excursion outside is really necessary these days.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Counting my many blessings, I am so thankful that we are as set up as we are and can survive these frigid temperatures with very little inconvenience or discomfort.

The old-timers around say that back in the first half of the 1900s, winters were regularly like the one we're experiencing this year.  I can't help but wonder how difficult it must have been for the early homesteaders in this area.  Next to no insulation in their houses, meager heating systems, isolation from town and supplies for months, inadequate clothing and footwear . . . oh, my.  I'm sure the list goes on and on.

I posted this poem way back in 2009.  I've kept a copy of it for many years and came across it in my files again this weekend.


Mama's mama, on a winter's day,
Milked the cows and fed them hay.

Slopped the hogs, saddled the mule,
And got the children off to school.

Did a washing, mopped the floors,
Washed the windows and did some chores.

Cooked a dish of home-dried fruit,
Pressed her husband's Sunday suit.

Swept the parlor,
Made the bed,
Baked a dozen loaves of bread.

Split some wood and lugged it in,
Enough to fill the kitchen bin.

Cleaned the lamps and put in oil,
Stewed some apples she thought might spoil.

Churned the butter, 
Baked a cake,
Then exclaimed, "For mercy's sake,
The calves have gotten out of the pen!"
Went out and chased them in again.

Gathered the eggs and locked the stable,
Returned to the house and set the table.

Cooked a supper that was delicious,
And afterwards washed all the dishes.

Fed the cat, sprinkled the clothes,
Mended a basket full of hose.

Then opened the organ and began to play,
"When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day."

                                                                  - Anonymous

This dear lady didn't think her days were a challenge.  She just did what needed to be done.  Then got up the next morning to start all over again.

Methinks people were made of sturdier stock in those days.


Carolyn said...

LOVE that poem. May just have to tack that up someplace on my wall to remind me how easy I have it :)

Judy T said...

Wonderful poem!
We made it to zero today (warmer than the forecast -4) but the sun was shining which helped tremendously. The winds were wicked! No school today and a 2 hour delay for tomorrow.
Stay safe and warm!

DFW said...

What a wonderful poem. That would be my Grandma Miller!

Akannie said...

I first read that poem in Carla Emory's
Old Fashioned Recipe Book. Loved does give you pause to think how much harder things were back then, in so many ways.

Tami said...

Love it! Thanks for sharing that. I was driving in to work yesterday listening to NPR about how cold it is where you are. Your post is perfect because I was wondering "How the heck do they survive that year after year?"

I'd have run screaming years ago.

Come to think of it I already have @;)

(PS...We're forecast to get 1-3 tonight. Oh The Horror!!!)

RockWhisperer said...

We're not quite so cold here in Oklahoma but in the single digits with wind chill of one degree yesterday. We get a lot of high wind normally. Night before last we had gusts up to 50mph, which sounded like a freight train coming through.

Yes, I think of my pioneer ancestors in Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska and Kansas, often, and what they must've endured. I have read accounts of how they strung a rope from the barn to the house because it was so easy to get lost between the two during a snowstorm, and then be found dead after the storm.

Not to mention that most women, pre-menopause, were pregnant every year or two, and nursing an infant when they weren't.

People died young. Lots of children didn't survive to adulthood. You had to have lots of babies if you wanted to have any children left to grow up. And you needed a big family to help on the farm. Very little medical care, often times not enough to eat, cooking everything on a wood stove, sometimes the well would get contaminated. Life was really, REALLY hard. We are beholden to our pioneer ancestor mothers for our very lives.

Mama Pea said...

Carolyn - You and me both, babe!

Mama Pea said...

Judy T - Yep, our schools are open today (so far!) but with a 2 hour delay also. We had -19° this morning, but no wind! Yay!!

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Thanks! We owe a lot to our ancestors . . . just for surviving under tough conditions!

Mama Pea said...

Akannie - That may well have been where I first saw it. (Great book, eh?)

Mama Pea said...

Tami - I've said it before, those low, low temps you are having just ain't normal for you folks! But you knew that. Stay warm. Hey, I just thought, you can have a "three dog night!" Hee-hee.

Mama Pea said...

Ilene Jones - All you say is so true. The only advantage they had (if you can call it an advantage) is that I do believe their lives were simpler than the highly technological world we live in. They certainly didn't have to muddle through all the choices we have today. One could argue we are fortunate to HAVE the choices, but there are some baaaad things out there to choose from!

The 'Stead said...

Thanks for the perspective! I was feeling a little grumpy about -15. It's almost beyond me to think of how hard life was even 50 years ago. I'm so spoiled with my modern appliances and central heat. Although that could change with propane shortage.

The last time it was this cold here was 1963. I don't remember that, I was 3.

My Grandma always said "it's a wasted day if I don't learn something new." So I'm off to see what I can learn.

Stay warm,

Kristina said...

Love the poem!

Mama Pea said...

The 'Stead - I worry about the propane shortage, too. We are in good shape (use it primarily for the gas cooking stove and water heater) but we've heard people in our area have gone through their (supposed) winter's supply and simply cannot afford to get their tanks filled . . . or even half filled. In this weather how long would a partial filling last? So grateful we heat with wood.

Susan said...

I keep having to remind my self that - yes - it gets cold in the winter! Still, this long, extended period of polar air is a new wrinkle. And it does, indeed, make me grumpy. I have pretty much worked out a streamlined routine for the outdoor critters, but it's still a challenge when the temps are in double digits below zero with wind chill! I find myself wishing spring would just hurry up and happen!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Oh I hate to tell you we have had over 10 days straight of over 70 degrees, my daffodils are all blooming along with the narcissus. Broccoli is forming nice heads. The down side still no rain, maybe some due Thursday ... will see. The poem reminds me of my aunt and uncle that lived on 160 acres in the 50's with no electricty, no usable running water, water had to be hauled from town, even for your Saturday night bath. And then there was the outhouse and the chamber pot. The galvanized laundry tub for summer and winter and the wood stove for cooking and heat ... summer and winter also.

Take care, stay warm and dry

Candy C. said...

What a great poem, really puts things in perspective!
I really don't know how ya'll can deal with these prolonged cold spells. You have my deepest respect!

LindaCO said...

You still have plenty of fortitude, IMO :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh I needed that poem today! I have been feeling pretty sorry for myself with the "crud" and other things getting in my way of doing what I want to do.

So glad to hear you are doing well with the weather, and staying in as much as possible. Can't imagine being that cold.

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - I do, too!

Mama Pea said...

Susan - No, no, not spring time yet! I'm not ready. Just got done sorting through all my garden seeds and (reluctantly) tossing ones that really were too old. Now to sit down with the 13 seed catalogs I have and figure out where to order what. And I've got so much reading yet to do, and quilting, and trying out new recipes, and knitting, and . . . oh, yeah snow shoveling, too.

Mama Pea said...

Tombstone Livestock - You wouldn't believe how much I can relate to your aunt and uncle. Before we (finally!) found the old hand-dug well on our property up here, we hauled water from town, too. Fifteen miles away. Outhouse and chamber pot, baths once a week in the old galvanized tub next to the kitchen wood cook stove, kerosene lamps for light. Oh yeah, those were the good old days! :o}

Mama Pea said...

Candy C. - As they say, everything is relative. We all get used to what we have to deal with. And, of course, it's our choice to live here. Disadvantages sure, but for us lots of advantages, too!

Mama Pea said...

LindaCO - Some people would say lack of gray matter! ;o] But thanks!

Mama Pea said...

Stephanie - I'm fortunate (we both are) to have the luxury of not having to go out everyday in this terrible, frigid weather. And if we do have to leave the house for any period of time, you can bet we dress for the weather! Only way to survive up here.

Leigh said...

I think we moderns are quite spoiled! We had 11° this morning but about halfway through chores my hands were hurting painfully from the cold. I'm tired of being cold but always think of Laura in the Little House Books. One of their winter chores was shaking snow off the bedspread! And she never complained about the chores or the cold.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - Well, no wonder your hands were painfully cold during chores this morning! The temps you're having must be breaking all kinds of records in your area. Hope the goats grew thick enough coats for your unusual temps!