Trying to Gain Headway

By , May 6, 2018

Here on the homestead, we have entered the early days of what we consider the summer season (see Circle of the Seasons: Summer). This year, it’s all different.

We’ve had an odd year so far. The latest oddness has been our weather. General conversation suggests that everything’s late this year, but a neighbor observed that perhaps it’s not late, it’s just not as early as it has been for the past few years.

Whatever’s going on, we’re getting cool, wet, windy weather. Our headway suffers as a result.

changin weather on Lynn Canal, Alaska

The view’s improving after recent high winds (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

If you’ve followed this blog for long, you recognize spring is a frustrating season for us (see Fish or Cut . . . Wood). The homestead bottoms out; our food stores deplete before foraging picks up, the firewood supply dwindles, weather prevents outside work, the garden’s not ready, the soil often frozen. We bog down.

Late April/early May usually wakes us up. The herring run revitalizes nature, the songbirds return, the weather improves. We start to gain headway: fishing, wood harvest, outdoor construction, gardening—the true work of the homestead begins.

But, in our usually driest, mildest season, we’re getting high winds and enough rain to make outside work harder. As if to add insult to injury, the wind—mostly southerly—feels cold for this time of year!

It’s not as if we’re experiencing hurricanes, but the wind’s steady (relentless) enough to slow down our usual progress into the summer season. Nature perseveres: the hummingbirds arrived, other songbirds gather daily, the eulochan run in Lutak Inlet, and I’m sure the herring are here. We just don’t have the sunny, flat water conditions that usually accompany these seasonal developments. It’s not too windy for me to fish off the rocks—heaven knows I’ve done it before—but it’s been windy enough to make it uncomfortable, and even somewhat dangerous. Usually, by now, we’re doing the majority of our cooking with the sun ovens, but the wind knocks them over, and the rain showers lessen their effectiveness.

Broken hummingbird feeder

One of our hummingbird feeders fell and broke in the wind. Note the newly bloomed crocuses in the upper right hand corner (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Perhaps the worst part is our morale. We depend on sunshine, calm, and warmth to bring us out of our winter shell, to make us want to get out and get going—to make headway.

I’m not saying we’re paralyzed. I’m finishing harvesting that widow maker tree for firewood. Michelle’s adding a new grow box to the garden. We’re accomplishing things, we’re starting new projects, we’re continuing to work the homestead, it just feels different this year. We lack the impetus of the season we’ve grown to count on.

The forecast offers hope. The wind may die this afternoon. I intend to get out and fish. I may get windburned, I may get a bit wet, but all I have to do is catch that first Dolly Varden of the season to re-energize me (see Hello Dolly!). I’ll feel like I’m making headway despite the less-than-optimal conditions.

2 Responses to “Trying to Gain Headway”

  1. Eva says:

    Mark, We, too, have had strange weather this year. We had two snows the first two Sundays in April which is rare for our location in the middle of the U.S.. Our winds have been so strong and now we have “skipped” spring and went straight to summer..supposed to be 84 degrees here today. Craziest weather ever!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Eva, we can only expect it to get worse in the coming years!

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