Loving the Many Seasons

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SpitFire Hollow has taught me to observe seasons differently. We get mired in the 4 rotations of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter that we fail to see the many sub-seasons that flip the birdie at our rigid expectations. These other seasons, like the word implies, adds more spice and flavor to our lives. Sometimes just enough to take your breath away, other times too harsh to swallow. Some of these seasons appear multiple times in one year and some stay most of the year any given year.

This year, from the time I purchased SpitFire Hollow in May until this very day, the prevailing seasons have been Rain and Mud!

When I first moved in and experienced all the rain and moisture, watched my two creeks rage and roar on down the road, continuously scrubbed away mold and mildew collecting on everything I owned (and even throwing away a few things ruined by it), it occurred to me that I considered much in preparation of this purchase but I never researched the weather here in the Potomac Highlands. Only 2.5 hours from D.C. where I had been living, I expected only a slight difference in temperatures and weather. Wondering if I would ultimately die of a mold infestation, I felt foolish about not giving it a thought beforehand.

It turns out it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. When speaking with my neighbors, EVERYONE was experiencing the same issues I was and EVERYONE was pretty much shocked by it all. THIS was not the norm (Thank the Gods!) and it was putting a damper on life here for us all.

My neighbor, E.D., raises cows in multiple locations up and down this holler. Typically, he can grow the hay he needs to get through the winter. Not this year. Even when I offered my pasture land for hay, it was just too wet to get much out of it. E.D. and his son would wait for a dry day to cut the field but before they could gather it up, it would pour again for days and ruin all their hard work. Basically, they mowed my pasture with little in return. Good news for me, sucks for them! This was the first year in many E.D. had to buy his hay.

My road has a number of culverts running along it. Two had been washed out multiple times. Though the men in the neighborhood respond a bit more quicker than the county (though the county does a very good job, all things considered), the culvert that washed out most is not on a county road and was a true burden to the residents who are ultimately responsible for its upkeep. Besides being “trapped” in their homes, once for up to 10 days, unable to get onto the county road, they also dealt with the costs associated with the replacement of the culvert. A double whammy that would have broken me, sent me straight back to D.C., had my house actually been located on the side of my property that runs along this dirt road instead of on the county road! I just wouldn’t have been able to deal with it, not mentally or financially. Country roads are more wild than wonderful some times!

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Count them. One, two, three damaged culverts awaiting removal since the summer of 2018!

Photo taken February 15, 2019

And what comes with months and months of rain? Mud. Lots and lots of mud! Guess what? Mud is just as treacherous as ice when trying to walk from your car to porch with bags of groceries or getting your front wheel drive car out of the church parking lot. But it is also messier than snow and ice. So, more continuous cleaning. I mop my kitchen floor only when it can’t be ignored because EVERY DAY, ALL DAY it gets dirty. Dogs and cats don’t do well with wiping their feet before coming in; not mine at least.

Mud was also a problem driving down my paved road. Though paved, it is narrow. Pulling over so oncoming traffic can pass resulted in threats of sliding into the creek or getting stuck. Who knew mud season was real and requires a whole level of expertise I didn’t have?

So here I am surround by guardian trees: maples, black walnuts, sycamores and others I’ve yet to identify. My farmhouse is on level ground, out of the flood zone (thank the Gods again!) but running along one side is the creek and then the mountain. I’ve watched a number of trees fall - fortunately none have hit the house - but trees are falling down across roads and onto power lines. Mud and rain season has me continuously monitoring my trees. Especially the one below. When she goes, so does that power line.

Mud and rain season also threatens the ability to communicate with my family and the outside world. You heard me right. On this side of the mountain, there are very few spots that actually get cell service and all two of those spots require you to be on the main route and to cease moving until you are finished. Everywhere else, WiFi service is required. Power outage = telephones and WiFi out too.

Are you getting the picture?

Weather channels warn against hurricanes, tornadoes, heat waves and announce winter storm warnings. We need to add to that list. Dealing with too much rain and moisture can be a health and safety risk, one most of us are not fully prepared for.

Now that it is winter, we are still getting more rain than snow but even after it snows, the weather warms up enough to melt it all and soak the earth further. Mud prevails again!

Living with sub-seasons (and I suspect there are many, many more - like the ladybug season that filled the house with good luck charms this summer) keeps you ever alert. Living here has required I be more than just awake in my daily life but highly aware. Living in highly controlled environments puts us in a lethargic state, operating on auto-pilot, running around each day on well-worn paths, rarely looking up to notice anything. Living here is like living in the Seattle Fish Market. If you are not alert, you may get smacked with a flying mackerel!

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Honestly.

Happy Valentine’s Day SpitFire Hollow!