Snow Day

At one o'clock in the morning I get a message from Rosy, "Look outside!" She is completely correct in her assumption that I am delighted to be woken from a deep sleep and sent outside to view a snowy wonderland in the moonlight. It is snowing! In Launceston! We almost never get snow, and never a whole snow blanket. And under a nearly full moon the snow lies ghostly and luminescent.

I am outside in my pyjamas, boots and a coat, with snow in my hair, all alone in the silence. To be fair, I did try to wake Red, but they were not anywhere near as excited as I was about the prospect of snow in the night time, so I had the night and the snow all to myself.

At lunch time today there was still snow all over the garden, with the hardy winter veg popping its heads up out into the cold sunlight. My plan today was to go up to Paul's to get more fire wood. That plan is shelved because Paul's mountain road is closed. I am running out of wood but had the bright idea to chop up the big old chopping block for extra warmth. I had already accidently chopped a big piece out of it last week, so it is clearly time. I also have various logs arranged around the place as outdoor furniture. They can go into the fire as well. It's like the Russian steppes around here, chopping up the 
furniture to stay warm.. 

Rosy and her boyfriend drove over for coffee and warmth as their power was off and they live in an all electric house. Our power went off last night but serendipitously Red spent a couple of days during the week making more new candles from old so we had light. We had warmth from the fire and could cook our dinner and make our cups of tea on the the wood stove or on our gas cook top. It really, really doesn't hurt to think about adding some extra layers of resilience for when the grid stops working. I was forcibly reminded that we need another torch. One is not quite enough and Paul keeps nagging me about keeping one in the car. This one is rechargeable and I have had it over a year and never yet recharged it.

The kale and the peas and the cherry plum blossom seem to positively be thriving with their brief encounter with the snow. The temperatures are plunging this week as we experience an Antarctic blast from the south. Last week I ordered this year's seeds from The Seed Collection. I have trialled their seeds over the last year - the germination rates are excellent and they are very good value indeed, a small company from just over Bass Strait in Victoria. It always seems impossible that it is only weeks away from time to be planting seeds when we are in the depths of a freezing August, winter's last hurrah. And yet, look at this blossom. The plum tree knows what we can only hope for, that spring is just around the corner.

Whatever hemisphere you live in, August brings the last of a fierce season, whether it is biting cold or the heat of the sun. Time slips away from us so often as we race along to a pace of life that has separated itself from the seasons. August is a good time to stop a bit and look around, treasure a fiery winter dawn, the joy of a fire, the wonder of hardy early blossom. Or at the height of summer to stop and really taste that sun-warmed tomato and inhale the basil, just for a moment before subjecting them to the alchemy of the passata pot. 

It is such a joy to be astonished all over again by what the Earth has up her sleeve.. surprise! (Well, clearly it is more of a joy for us mere mortals when it is surprise snow rather than a surprise tsunami or tornado..)


Treaders said…
I love the first snow - it's so pretty and calm - well that is until it turns to muddy slush later. By the end of the winter I'm usually glad it's over but we hardly had any snow last year, it was weird (and very hard on the ski resorts). That's a lovely view over town too!
Anonymous said…

I really like your comment about the plum tree. Our peach tree started blossoming a few days ago. I normally recoil from the colour pink, but the peach gets away with it because it feels like such an important declaration of hope.
Jo said…
Anna, I'm imagining this will be our first and last snow for many years, so I enjoyed all of it, including the slush. I love how snow covers up all the mess and makes everything sculptured and beautiful. I hope you have a better snow year this year for aesthetic reasons:)

Anon, I love this: "the peach gets away with it".. much is forgiven any tree that gifts us early blossom:)
Anonymous said…
Definitely worth being woken up for! I love how the hardy plants just seem to shrug off the snow. I remember once seeing masses of tulips spearing up under little individual caps of snow, then just hours later standing tall and fully open in the sun. Magic.

I hope the firewood supply can be replenished in time to save the furniture!
Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Linda, I have watched so many plants in my garden flattened under a blanket of snow all popping up again as the snow melted. Even the delicate jonquils which I thought were permanently squashed have revived. I am sure this is old news to many people, but I have only ever seen snow up in the mountains, mostly above the treeline. Such an education!
PS I am about to head up the mountain, so the furniture is safe. For now.
Linda said…
Gorgeous snowy photos. Magical, glad you were woken up so you could enjoy it. We didn’t have any snow at all last winter here in our part of central England. Climates are definitely changing.
Anonymous said…
It HOT South Florida, the picture of your snow blanket yard was a delight. Sitting by the fire, is one of my favorite things to do, and one that I rarely experience here ( I am living vicariously through you!)
We are in hurricane season here, so I continue to look for ways to improve my self sufficiency.
Be well JO!
Mary said…
So lovely! Especially since it's the dog days of summer here. We haven't had snow in years. I remember when we used to have a very light snow most years and one unusually heavy snow(3-4 inches) every several years. Enjoy!
Anonymous said…
Oh I have snow envy! Jo, please don't start chopping up your furniture to keep warm. But how resourceful of you to use the old chopping block. It was minus 8.7 here the night you had snow and quite exhilarating to go for a walk in the morning (okay, I actually wondered if the air in the alveoli in my lungs could freeze!). The dogs were not quite as thrilled to be out. I think your reminder to have an extra torch and be prepared for power outs etc is quite timely. I see interesting times ahead...

gretchenjoanna said…

Great stories are always coming forth from your house!

I adore, and will try to remember and cultivate, your historic and global perspective that enables you to connect with tradition as you chop up the chopping block and who knows what else. So appropriate to choose that piece first, though. Maybe every home that heats with wood fuel should keep an old chopping block in reserve against days such as this.

Meg said…
Oh, snow! We never ever get snow here as it's the subtropics but how lovely to wake up to that white-blanketed world. Definitely worth getting out of bed for in the middle of the night.
Jo said…
Linda, "climates are definitely changing" - yes, as we come to expect the unexpected and learn to embrace change. Not comfortable, but interesting..

Patricia, I am so interested to know how you are going with improving your self-sufficiency. All the best for weathering the hurricane season, that sounds like a challenge..

Mary, apparently we haven't had this kind of snow for 99 years here in Launceston, so not holding my breath..

Madeleine, I am thankful to say that our morning walks are never that cold! I am so impressed by your fortitude! Take a deep breath and enjoy that brisk August air!

Gretchen Joanna, I am in the truly fortunate position of having been supplied by Paul with no less than three excellent sturdy chopping blocks chainsawed from a tough old eucalypt. So I have back up! I was using the others as handsome plant pot holders while they waited their turns as chopping blocks. Luckily I now have an excellent supply of wood and kindling from Paul's, so no furniture has been sacrificed during The Long Winter.

Meg, I get excited by just about any kind of weather, but snow was a definite bonus for its rarity value. I also get up for hail, rain, comets, full moons, and spectacular sunrises. Then I go back to bed and sleep in wherever possible!
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Beautiful! And thanks for sharing the photos. It was a bit warmer here although flurries fell for hours and hours. The winter vegetables shake off the snow as if to say: Do your worst! And Paul is right, get another torch. :-)


Anonymous said…
Jo: Not sure how self sufficient I am, but I try. I think I should add that to me being self sufficient is not necessarily being off grind, but having a home that I can actually take care off and not need others for help. The main thing I have done is to have hurricane windows (high impact)installed. Before, my husband and I would cover windows and doors with ply-wood, a very tedious and difficult job. Having these windows has done wonders for my peace of mind. I also have a generator as we normally loose power for days, sometimes weeks if we have a direct hit. I have well water, so a loss of power also means a loss of running water inside the house. Now, If I can just master turning on the damn generator with ease! Like Red, I have been making candles with remnants for lighting.I continue to store filtered water through out the year using containers that enter my house. Although, I have a grill were I could do some cooking, this is an area that needs improvement.
Forecasters say this will be an active season with around 28 named storms :( I pray they are wrong.
Anonymous said…
Just lovely Jo! The only time my almost adult kids have seen snow was years ago at Cradle Mountain. Here in SW Vic it is brilliantly sunny days and rainy nights, so perfect gardening, pottering and general nature-admiring weather.

Thanks so much for the seed company recommendation. We have been hard at work to expand our veg and fruit production and somehow now have 18 raised garden beds which need to be filled! Am going to do a big seed order this week. Planted 8 more fruit trees last week (3 peach, including one with divine flat-bottomed doughnut-shaped fruit, 1 nectarine, another lemon (Lemonade), Cara cara blood orange, Emperor mandarin and Tahitian lime, plus 2 blueberry bushes.

The only tree starting to blossom is one of my apricots, but narcissi and jonquils are in full bloom. Waiting on the bluebells now. Can it be possible I finally love gardening?!! Loretta xx
Jo said…
Chris, it's so much fun to be experiencing actual snow falling from the sky! All the vegies are fine, except for the broad beans which are now the flat-and-broad beans or possibly the flattened broad beans..
Ok, ok, I'll get another torch..

Patricia, a house and property you can take care of yourself is indeed a boon. That was partly why I moved to a small place - so i could paint it myself! I hear you on starting the generator - I gave away a whipper snipper and lawn mower that i could never start. I never knew whether it was arm length or upper body strength that i lacked - maybe both!
One thing I don't have here is any alternative water source. It would be sensible to get a rainwater tank, but a) it's not in the budget, and b) I'm not sure how long I'll be living here. Really, my plan B for any disaster is to go and stay with Paul where he can pretty much shut his gate and have everything he needs right on his own land for months. Still, having water stored somewhere would be a sensible precaution that i must look into.
I hope those forecasters are wrong as well, fingers crossed!

Loretta, not only can it be possible that you finally love gardening, I think you have been totally bit by the food forest bug! 18 raised beds is fabulous. You will have so much fun with all that. I must admit to buying many, many seeds last week. Soon my entire dining table will be covered with pots of baby seeds germinating. Can't wait!!
Mary said…
I just wanted to let you know that your snow day has been a pleasant thing for me to think about during this hot, muggy week in Georgia. I love imagining you standing in the snow(magical) with and an almost-full moon(more magical). I can almost feel the fresh cold air. And I love the way snow instantly changes the way the world around you looks. The moon is always fascinating to me and seeing it over a snowy night must have really been awesome. Thanks for the little winter vacation.
Jo said…
Mary, my pleasure! It was a wonderful little winter vacation here also! Still, a hot week in Georgia would be quite welcome as well, as long as I could come back to a Tasmanian spring at the end of it:)

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