Thursday, April 05, 2007

Spring, So Far

Well, let's see... the crocuses are up, the daffodils started blooming, I've planted peas, spinach and lettuce. I've eaten greens from the overwintered garden. The rhubarb was an inch or so high. I have flats of germinating tomatoes, peppers, basil, and white zinnias for the wedding. Easter is a few days away; I have pussy willows and forsythia ready to bloom in a mason jar on the kitchen table.

And outside it is 20 degrees, snowing, and blowing about 30 mph. Last night's near blizzard has let up somewhat, but the roads were warm when the snow fell, so it's all ice now. The snow is expected to keep coming through Sunday, when it turns to rain.

The casino was busy last night. It seems that the folks who didn't go south for spring break are determined not to spend the week at home staring at the walls.

I laid in bed last night listening to the wind howl, weighing the pros and cons of living in an old farmhouse. This house, at 1400 square feet, is small by today's standards. There is no "great room"; the rooms are small and connected by doors that close. The kitchen, the biggest room, has doors leading to twin parlours on either side of the staircase. You can enter stairs from doors at the other ends of the parlors; the former fron door also opens into the stairwell. I think this was never a front door home, all of our entrances are through the side door, directly into the kitchen.

Upstairs, a hall winds around the open stairwell. There are three bedrooms and a closet, each arranged so that none of the bedrooms share a common wall. The bedrooms are small, but they have huge windows that stretch from below the knee to the ceiling. The bedrooms seem larger than they are. When we bought the place it had no heat upstairs. We installed heat ducts upstairs so that those rooms could qualify as "habitable space" but we hardly ever use them, preferring to sleep in cold rooms.

Downstairs, we can shut up the rooms we're not using, instead of heating them. When the power goes out, we can shut the doors to the kitchen and use the gas stove to heat food and the room.

Heat is the biggest part of our energy budget in the winter. Lately Liz and I started reading No Impact Man, a blog written by a guy living in Manhattan who has decided to pare his family's net environmental impact down to zero. He made big news when he announced that they were giving up toilet paper.

I'm here living with No Paycheck Man. Construction in Michigan continues to be slow, so we're scrimping everyway we can. In the end I suspect that being broke is better for the environment than all the "sustainable" shopping opportunities that people can invent. And it won't go out of style, either. I feel quite well off, compared to the No Impact family, because of all of the things that we know how to do for ourselves.

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