We have been watching winter movies playing in remote places lately. Yesterday it was “Into the White”, a Norwegian movie by director Petter Næss.
“And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
Failing heat tape, a power outage, and impassable roads are just a brief reminder about the severity of life in rural Alaska. Winter has not even started, yet.
I am not really living off-grid, but when essential utilities fail, that most of us take for granted, it feels like living off-grid. Temperatures dropped into the single digits and that’s when things break. Plumbers and electricians were working overtime in rough conditions and hard to come by. A foot of snow and no snow plow in sight. ..
I felt more secure 3 years ago living off-grid, 120 miles north of Anchorage. There was no road. There were no power lines. Everything, food, diesel, and anything else had to come by bush plane. There were weeks, when the plane could not make the trip due to inclement weather. But we were prepared. We had backup systems. We had fire wood for heating and cooking, the well would provide water all winter. And if we got a ton of snow, so be it, we did not have to go anywhere.
Oh, there were times when I called the mechanic. Not to make an appointment, but to walk me through the process of fixing a 20 kW diesel generator on a radio phone, where only one person could talk at a time. In addition, the phone was in a different building than the generator. Nevertheless, it all worked out.
I learned a lot in those 9 months.
The simpler, the better.
Anything man-made breaks at some point.
So here I am, freezing temperatures, failing heat tape, power outage, and a looming winter storm warning.
One more lesson: In the end it all works out, and if it’s not working, it’s not the end, yet.
One day later, the heat tape is back up, the power is on.
The car is still stuck in the drive way.
That’s for tomorrow.
Stay warm, be safe.
It was wet and windy for a couple of days, so I had time to work on some images. One evening the storm started to move out. The foothills sparkled in the late sunlight with a shroud of menacing clouds in the mountains. Two rainy days came to an end. The world looked gray with a few rays of hope. Was that in my head or was it real? With that in mind, I came up with three variations of the same image…
You be the judge.
I blinked. I missed it. There was a break in the clouds. A winter storm moved out. And tben the next front rolled in.
Snow flakes fell silently, putting a fresh coat on everything.
Tonight the wind is howling.
Our guest and the stranded pilots are gone, leaving just a working crew behind.
Spring seems to be moved back a few days in our neck of the woods.
Will I be dreaming in color tonight? Of vibrant spring flowers, maybe?
Is this storm just taking a breather or heading towards Canada for good? The air contains still a lot of humidity and it could snow any minute. Tonight we see a bit of the stars. Some unlucky pilot may miss tomorrows NFL playoff games, but we will be happy: Mail, Christmas packages, fuel and food! Oh wait, if they come that means we will be hauling supplies off the ice and pump diesel during the games as well? In that case, can we have another snow day and sunshine on Monday, please?
Today we awoke to heavy, wet snow flakes that whirled around in all directions. Most of the the day the temperatures were above freezing. Snow and rain fell at the same time. Water dripped from our roofs. It was a day to stay inside.
To conserve fuel we had turned off the generator listening only to the howling wind, the crackling fire, and nothing else. No TV, no canned music, no internet.
It is a beautiful thing to have a dry roof over your head that protects you from the elements.