To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Part 6: Post 10: Cold Nights

We finally had our first hard frost last night. We'd been expecting it, we've had a few light frosts already--last week they got us all out of bed at eleven to harvest tomatoes before they could freeze and we had green tomato casserole for lunch the next day. I think Sarah was surprised by the frost because we're mid-slope--the ground falls away toward the road and keeps on going down to the lake almost half a mile away. Cold air drains downwards, so I guess we're warmer than some of the other places in the area and the frost warnings the weather predictions put out usually don't apply to us.

Anyway, last night it finally got cold enough to do more than freeze the tomatoes. We're now in winter-mode as far as the farm goes, which means we're also in winter-mode as far as the dining room goes. Pretty much everything not either in a greenhouse or under hoop covers has either died or been harvested already, so we won't have fresh greens again until the winter crops start coming in in a couple of weeks--and I understand the winter plantings are smaller than the summer plantings, because there is less available space. Milk production is basically over for the year, so we have no fresh milk, only a little cheese and yogurt. Egg production has dropped way off, though it hasn't stopped entirely. We're getting a lot of root vegetables, turnips, beets, potatoes, and so on, done all sorts of ways--soups, roasted, boiled with butter, and so on--plus a lot of apples and some pears. And as I mentioned, there is meat at most meals, for those who want it--which is pretty much everybody. A lot of the yearlings were vegetarian or vegan when we arrived, with almost no localvores, but now that's switched.

We haven't started eating the jams and jellies yet, though. That comes later in the year, so I suppose we're not entirely winterized in that respect.

When I got here the mild rationing and the whole idea that you couldn't get foods out of place or out of season (unless you went off campus) just seemed strange to me. It doesn't now. It seems strange now that I haven't always eaten like this. I look forward to each season's, I wonder what they're going to feed us next. It's exciting.

And it's stabilizing. I eat where I live, and I wouldn't eat out of place or out of season, if I could help it, any more than I would eat cereal for lunch or sandwiches for breakfast or wear my pajamas to walk around town in public. When I have to eat off campus, and eat food raised by strangers on some landscape where I don't know the trees it's...I don't like it. I look forward to coming back home. I mean here, the campus, is home.

I can't decide if I like this gradual sense of severance from the ordinary, main-stream world, or whether this change frightens me. I can see why Charlie wears his uniform almost all the time and why he's all but forgotten how to drive. He reads the newspapers, but he doesn't watch TV, or even movies, and I don't think he listens to much recorded music. Maybe he doesn't listen to any recorded music at all. He didn't know who Christina Aguilera was. When someone mentioned her at Paleolithic Dinner the other night, he said "who?" Am I going to end up like that?

Of course, if it means I've got something in my life more important than knowing who Christina Aguilera is, or whoever else, then yes, I guess I do want that. I am going to have such a strange life, it looks like. I think of that, sometimes, when I can't get to sleep, how my life is zooming off away from anything I ever expected. The realness of it, the realness of my actual life, scares me a little.

And, by the way, the night-time when I can't sleep is cold. We still haven't lit the stoves, though sometimes someone will lay a fire in one of the fireplaces downstairs, for the look of it. It doesn't do much to heat the place, of course. Apparently they have a tradition of not lighting the stoves until Samhain, unless the weather is seriously unseasonably freezing, which it has not been this year.

The Mansion is pretty well insulated, so after a warm day when we've had the windows open it takes a long time for the building to cool down again, so those nights are not at all bad. Some nights it's warm enough to sleep out on the balconies, where you can see the moon and stars on clear nights and hear owls calling to each other in the woods.They don't go "who-who," for the most part, or even "who-cooks-for-you," or any other mnemonic, anymore. I guess that was for earlier in the year? I used to hear them.... Instead they let out these long, quavering wails, musical and strange. The crickets stop calling right after sunset, though. Even warm nights are too cold for them, now.

But other nights, especially when it's clear and dry out and the day was cool, I wake up about three in the morning, shivering, even underneath my handmade wool blankets and flannel sheets. I get up and pull on my long-johns and put on my hat. Three AM is a bad time to wake up, if you have to wake up for real at five-thirty to get ready for zazen at six. I don't always get back to sleep. It's still dark at six, now, so either way it feels like I'm getting up in the middle of the night. Sometimes I just get up and stay up. I go out on my balcony and curl up in my uniform cloak and watch the stars move slowly across the sky. I watch time passing.

I bet if I had a girlfriend I wouldn't get so cold at night. Or two girlfriends, to make a sandwich of me in my little bed. Mmmm. Yes, please.

[Next Post: Friday, October 25: Transitions]

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