Saturday, March 29, 2014

hot showers are special

I never imagined I would live in a place where taking a shower would be a legitimate topic of conversation that could carry the conversation for several minutes, nor that getting a hot shower would be cause for congratulation and small celebration. It is common that at any meal one may bring up the fact that they successfully had a hot shower that day, or bemoan that the water was not hot. Discussions of the best times to take showers, how many people one must share the hot water with, and informing others of one's intention to shower in hopes that the water is hot are all commonplace. 
Nor had I imagined that I would live in a place where I could hike up the side of a mountain for an afternoon walk. Watching the clouds gracefully envelop the mountain tops, seeing the precipitation change between rain and snow multiple times in a day, as if quite uncertain what to be. Being so close to the snow line, so that I can see the snowy trees just a couple hundred feet above us when all we got was rain.
I finally am settling into the rhythms, being comfortable here, and wondering what it will be like to go out and come back in. The snow has melted significantly, and is back to what I can imagine as normal amounts of snow (with my gauge for that being Minnesota, so take it as you will). Small trees are reappearing, and several other things have also emerged that I never knew were hiding under the snow. Entrances to most buildings are once again near ground level. I have seen more birds. Spring is nearer, though still, it seems, a little uncertain about making a full appearance.
We seem to have survived March madness, which apparently plagues the village this time every year with cabin fever and the twitchies. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of reading lately, which has pleased me immensely. The library here is larger than I imagined it would be, and there are many things to choose from.
The mine remediation people are beginning to trickle in, and it won't be too long before that season is in full swing and the village will take on a very different character.
I suppose this isn't all too poignant, but a brief update for you, since I don't have my own computer and the internet is super slow, which makes it hard to write here very often.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

and still it snows

I could never truly have imagined this much snow. It has snowed at least 140" since I arrived here, and the snow is 81" deep, which means there are small trees buried under snow, and I have walked over them without even knowing it. Today is a stop day, which means the village comes to a halt as much as possible. It is a nice relaxing day in many ways, and I'm using the time to catch up on my introvert needs. It is still snowing, on and off all weekend, and I'm waiting for the sun to come out again. The sun has now made it over the top of the mountain Buckskin, which we celebrate here in the village by having a party, as it means (when we see the sun) there are several more hours of direct sunlight. The party was in the street, with music, dancing, and food grilled outside, and people dressed in all sorts of crazy outfits, including beach type clothes, never mind that it was around 35 degrees out. The importance of sunlight was something I discovered in Minnesota, but I have been reminded even more starkly here, as I have been here more than 3 weeks and may have seen full sunlight about 6 days. It really does make a difference on mood and health.
Living in community like this is fascinating, and in some ways like having a big extended family. You see the same people all the time, share space and food and work with them, as well as germs, as colds spread rapidly and can take out half the village in any given number of days. Everyone helps with the basic work of the village, like cleaning dishes and taking out and sorting garbage and keeping stairs and paths cleared of snow. Staff all have different stories and reasons for coming here, but I've been intrigued by the many variations of the same tune, namely uncertainty about where else to be in life (though a secondary tune is those who do not ever live in one place more than a few years and are often international teachers, going from school to school, country to country, and mission to mission).
The unreality of the reality of life here also often strikes me, as it is difficult for most to imagine that I do not just have bad cell phone reception, but that my phone actually says No Service (and said so halfway through the boat ride). And the internet is too slow for Skype or streaming. It hearkens back to dial up days in terms of speed. To explain that one has to travel down the mountain on a road that has to be cleared of feet of snow and has often been obscured by avalanches, then catch a boat that only runs three days a week, seems impossible to many these days. The boat company has a contract to bring us our mail, but UPS and FedEx do not accept that address, so an imaginary one that leaves packages with the boat company had to be created. Driving to a second stop on the boat route is possible, but when the mountain passes to get there are closed due to snow we don't always get all of our food orders. I've been told the closest emergency room is 4 hours away, but I don't know what kind of travel is required to get there.
There is a lot of grace to live in a place like this, a lot of sharing and patience required. We manage to get along quite well in spite of these things, but it also makes me think of the limitations that have been placed on us here to maintain an extra level of isolation that may or may not still be useful. For example, it is possible to have television here, we just don't. Some of the isolation can help one consider the necessity of all the things we have back in the 'real world', and give greater clarity to true usefulness and simple creature comfort. It is definitely an exercise in simplicity, and that could be useful to many these days.