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Mid-Winter Morning

I woke this morning at three, checked the outdoor temps on my phone, saw it was “twenty below” outside and leaped out of bed to fix fires in the stoves. The fire in the heating stove was still alive from my banking it last night. More wood there and done. Nevertheless, the house was cold. I worried that I’d have frozen pipes by morning so I decided to start the cook stove fire, too. Back in bed, my feet took forever to warm up. I slept till six.

Wow, everything was cold this morning. Though, the water pipes were frozen, though my feet were cold in wool socks, and though the cream was frozen in the fridge. Yet, I will praise the Lord. I put water in the tea kettle and lit the burner on the gas stove to heat it. I also started the fire in the cook stove again which meant that I had to fetch firewood off the stack outside. So, two fires, check. Coffee water heating, check. Dressed in layers and wool socks, check. I stood then, almost hugging the fireplace stove, thinking about those pipes and about starting the generator to run the heat lamp to thaw the U-room. Turning, my denim was getting almost too warm, but I felt warmer, again. I put the cream box on the warming shelf right next to the stove pipe so that by the time the coffee dripped, there would be pour-able cream.

At nine, when I tried, the generator refused to start. I kept pulling the rope, till my hands began to get too cold through my gloves. I gave up for the moment. Oh well, I have drinking water, who cares about the pipes! At ten, I went out to try it again. It started, Woohoo! Nope. Died as soon as I pushed the choke off. So I carried the generator in the back door and set it on the rug. It is heavy, I’m telling you. Give that an hour, I decided. It was just too cold.

For the pipes, I set the flat, cast iron skillet on the now piping hot cook stove to heat it up. I located Elv’s temperature gauge gun to check the degrees. It was 350 degrees on the stove top, so I figured when the skillet matched that, I’d be ready to use it to thaw the pipes. When I had checked the pipes for ice by using the same tool; I found the water pipes were at anywhere from 12 degrees to 22 degrees in the U-room. The skillet was soon hot enough to use. Using two hot pads I scooted it under the pipes on the floor. Putting 350 non-flame degrees in the same vicinity of 12 degrees pipes works wonders. Instead of sweating that something bad will happen, I figure that by the time the pipes thaw, the skillet will have cooled enough to not melt the pex pipes. Only good can happen. And it did, of course.

Still not done though. The lengths of pipe between sink and the other side of the wall were also frozen, so I pulled the trash cans away and kept the cook stove hot. Eventually I’ll win this.

Soon, Emilee brought drinking water and birch firewood in a sled to me. I think Amber tattled on my state of affairs. I needed the water but I was considering getting my own firewood, or not, because I have lots of dry pine and aspen right here by my back door.

Anyway, we used her sled and carried the generator back out to its little shelter. One pull and it puttered to life. Good. Now I can charge the batteries and get the U-room up to warmth with the heat lamp that runs when the generator does. My mistake last night was shutting the generator off when the batteries were charged instead of letting it run to keep the heat lamp going into the night. My excuse was that when you let the generator run out of gas it wants fifteen pulls, after refueling, to start. Well, I should have let it run, because I had far more than fifteen pulls in, this morning, and it still didn’t start.

Before anybody worries about all this morning routine that I do on my own, please know that I love this north life. And the fight with the cold. It doesn’t happen often. I have everything I need with which to work out these ordinary problems and I’m perfectly safe. The challenge is mind clearing and I even get some exercise out of it. There’s nothing quite like sitting down to my first cup of fresh brewed coffee, after a general stirring of fires, to plan the attack of the morning.

While occupied with the cold morning I have been thinking about the word “forbearance”. Sometimes I have taken a word or a phrase for the year as a theme for what’s happening or being planned. I gave it some thought again earlier this year, but it’s been too hard to even make sense of all that goes on these days, so I ditched that romantic idea. It was “shelter” last year and look what happened. We moved twice and had to “shelter in place” off and on for you-know-what. So I have kind of moved on from such notions.

Anyway, forbearance is a word that I think we could get our hands around to some good use as we walk into the unknowns of 2021. We all need it from others and I certainly can learn to be better at offering it to others, myself. We don’t seem to get to choose what’s coming, but we can choose how we do what comes.

Another word that’s crossed my radar lately is “resilience”. This the theme for the upcoming Daughters of Promise magazine. I’ve been thinking about us girls at GBC and what we’ve been walking through, like every other person, of course, but seriously! We have resilience. We do resilience well. What is the alternative? I ask you! Christian women are resilient. It hasn’t been an easy climb. I mean, women I know best, including my daughters and sisters and friends from church have taken some fervent beatings. And they/we are getting up, dusting off, discovering we can still walk and are still walking, arm in arm. It is amazing. And I’m proud of them/us. Is there an alternative? I hate to think of it.

I don’t even know how to think in terms of not being resilient. The thing is, it doesn’t stay twenty below all day long. The temps come up after sunrise and that icy grip loosens just enough that you can get the pipes thawed and the firewood hauled. The motors start, again. Oh, the snow still crunches underfoot and it is still terribly cold, but there’s daylight and available fuel and strength for the day.

Therefore, as God's chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 
                                             Colossians 3:12,13

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