Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Refuge From The Storm — Coleen O'Connell

The snowstorm last week during the holidays, with advertised winds at 45 to 60 mph and 10-12 inches of snow, was a huge wake up call for me. Since I sold my house in November and moved to a rental in anticipation of breaking ground for cohousing, I realized I am now living in a house without a wood burning stove for the first time in 35 years. I started to stress. All alone in an abandoned summer home neighborhood on the water, what will I do if the power goes out? How will I cook, get water, keep warm? Always the wood pile and my stash of candles reassured me. I don’t even think I have a candle with me in this house. Yikes. What to do?

Tap into that future cohousing neighborhood! I called John and Denise Lightner, fellow cohousers and soon to be my house mates in a home we are buying together. I dialed their number and asked if I could take refuge as we did a trial run of living together during the storm. Packing my knitting, a few good books, a jigsaw puzzle, and my cat – I headed out before the storm started.

For two days we holed up watching the winds swirl the snow in multiple directions. The wood stove hummed as we kept feeding it while a kettle of water bubbled away on top. John placed a pile of 12 inch square soap stones on the stove; each night he would wrap them in a coverlet then tuck them into our beds at our feet. Wow! This is an old Maine remedy for staying warm at night and it was great – except the cat curled up on top of it and wouldn’t let me near. The electricity never went out so movies kept the kids entertained at night. We ate great food, laughed a lot, started on the puzzle which was way over the top in terms of size and complexity, and generally enjoyed the storm. We talked about our future life together in cohousing and the excitement we were feeling for living without using fossil fuels to heat our houses. What will our houses feel like during a snowstorm we wondered aloud? We had only to look across John and Denise’s field to the prototype house build by GO-Logic to see that it was snuggled right into the landscape and doing well. And the kids pondered whose house they would run to for hanging out during a storm.

As I returned two days later to my rental house on the ocean, I was grateful for our trial run at combining our households. Life is truly one big experiment and in cohousing we are taking the next steps in building the village that will raise our children. I look forward to more snow storms with the Lightners.

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