Late last night, our “wind drought” ended. The weak northerlies that have prevailed since December 22nd finally strengthened enough to drive our wind generator and begin to charge our seriously depleted battery bank. This morning, the electric lights are on, the radio news comes from the stereo rather than a crank radio, and the blog is live once again.
Ideally, for the health of our battery bank, the current wind speed, somewhere around 15 knots, would persist for the next day or two. We would continue to be frugal in our electrical use so as not to draw on the batteries while they receive a long, slow, steady charge, up to the point that the cells begin to equalize. After that, perhaps a few hours of float would be nice, just to “finish off” the recharge.
But it’s not to be. As is so common in our part of the world, it’s all or nothing. After more than a week of virtual and actual dead calm, the wind will pick up to 30 knots this afternoon; tonight it’ll rise to 40 knots. Tomorrow, we’ll have a 45-knot gale. We can run our generator in these wind speeds, but we don’t like to—it’s loud, nerve-wracking, and potentially dangerous to the equipment. So, instead of staying off the inverter while the batteries fully recharge, we’re risking a proper charge to get back on line, refresh our phones, and take other steps to reestablish contact with friends and relatives in the hope that we’ll finish in time to continue the bulk of the charging before the wind speed rises above comfortable levels.
This is important. I managed to finish emailing our Christmas newsletter to family before the “drought” started, so I expect a few replies. Michelle didn’t make it through her list yet, and is playing catch up. The phones died before I could speak to my brother and his wife on Christmas day. Despite about 10 minutes on line to keep the blogs going, we have been disconnected lately, to a level that even I find discomforting.
So, we’re either reemerging or reemersing, depending on one’s point of view. Reading this on line, you may say we have reemerged, but for us, it’s dipping back into a world we’ve left for a time with no seriously debilitating effects.
From our point of view, the homestead is The Center of the World. We don’t hike “out” to the homestead, we hike “in.” You may find us using these terms interchangeably in conversation, but this is our most common way of looking at it. The world is “out there,” we are “in here.”
Which has meant, for us, that aside from our need to commune with family and friends at Christmas time, the recent period of low power has been quite acceptable. We’ve still got about two weeks left in our Christmas celebration. Freed from the time marking distractions of Internet, movies, and even proper reading light, we’ve enjoyed a period of timelessness that’s perfect at Christmas time. Our light has been low, so evenings have stretched endlessly in the mellow oil lamp and candle light. We’ve spent most of our time playing games, chatting, and eating. We’ve been low on power, but have still managed to play music almost constantly. Music, perhaps even more than Christmas lights, is definitely an essential feature of our holiday. As long as we can have that, we can do without some of the other features of the holiday.
In the past, the Christmas season was a “time-out-of-time,” set aside from the ordinary, a period more elastic and mystical than everyday life. As much as our homestead life has this quality most of the time, it’s been nice to experience it even more deeply than usual at this time of the year.