Dispatches from the Corona Experiment

Dispatches from the Cold – № 1

In the spirit of pandemic isolation I moved from a comfy city apartment to an off-grid cabin in the woods. Was it cold? Glad you ask. The thermometer I trusted most showed negative 42.5 Celsius, there were others that showed even lower numbers, but give or take a few degrees below -40 degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit, that’s cold!

The first indication of this frigid situation were shiny crystals covering all surfaces of the interior. They were inside the cabinets, on the walls, just about everywhere.

Then there were the door nobs. Turning a door knob with bare hands caused some instant burning sensation. Same thing with the house key. One of the cabins has an outside key lock. You punch in a number and then remove the key to open the door. My skin turned instantly white where I had touched the metal box, the key pad and the key. I did that only once with my bare hands.

When I took of my boots, a cloud of hot air rose from my feet, as if they were on fire. It was just warm humidity hitting the biting cold air.

The last memorable impression was the mattress. Frozen solid. Sleep number 1000. It was hard as rock. I slept the first night in with three layers of winter gear until the cabin had warmed up. There are still some corners low on the ground where I could see ice crystals. I use those corners as my indoor fridge.


“Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.”

Henry David Thoreau


Now, a day later its nice and cozy, grace to a propane furnace. Hope that thing will keep me warm for the rest of winter. That furnace, insulated walls and an arctic entry way, are the only thing separating me from the bitter cold.

I hope there will be more dispatches from the cold with more agreeable temperatures, though.

Stay warm.

Stay safe.

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8 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Cold – № 1

  1. Vicki says:

    Wow, that’s cold. Especially for someone who’s been living in a cosy city apartment. Hope that furnace doesn’t run out of propane. I’ve watched many TV series of building off the grid in Alaska on HGTV so my imagination has a little ‘fodder’ as to how yours might look like. A frozen mattress sounds like a nightmare to me.

    Love the image of the trees stoked with heaps of snow. I don’t think I’ve seen that much snow on trees before, even on the internet.

    • It’s the wind that piles the snow on the side of the trees. I have taken pictures at this particular location a couple of times. It was blowing hard every time, so I would last only a minute before I had to retreat.

  2. Pierre P. says:

    Take care and stay as safe as possible! That’s quite unbelievable for someone who’s never known colder than -10 Celsius like me. I guess it’s also hard not to run low on battery every time you take your camera outside. The pictures you took are impressive, though, so it’s worth it.

    • You got to keep everything warm. The smaller the battery the faster they drain in the cold.

      Below -20 C things become interesting. Cars need to be plugged in. Frostbite on exposed skin becomes an issue with any kind of wind.

      And it gets worse with every degree below that.

      But the sights and sounds are amazing.

      Thanks for reading.

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