1.3” inch rain. 64F room & slab. Batteries 63% slowly climbing.
As I read Linda’s 2:55 PM text, such a sigh blew out of me that a couple students turned their heads. Numbers can feel so potent when viewed from the edge of the world. For the first time I’d left Linda alone for a week in Home the Land Built to teach at Medtronic in Minneapolis. Brave Linda has spent everything to just live. With hip bone grinding on her femur, she hadn’t the energy to learn our new systems, especially some of the complex startup procedures. So a nightmare scenario would go something like this: I’m not there, the batteries need recharging and the masonry heater needs starting. So now on Thursday, day 4 of training, my nightmare scenario appeared was unfolding. And from my view, teetering upon the edge of the world, I began to perceive layers of meaning in Linda’s text.
1.3” inch rain. Translation: 1300 gallons of rainwater harvested from the roof, enough to fill the cistern. Enough perhaps to last us through the frozen-gutter drought of winter. Great news! Sorry I'm not there to celebrate.
64F room & slab. Translation: House is cold and if I trust weather.com---forecasting highs in the 40’s and lows in the 20’s---it’s going to get colder and colder. If I were home I would have started the heater 6AM Thursday by building a tiny fire. A mere 5 lbs of wood. A bucket of kindling. Then at 2PM I’d start an 8 lb fire followed by an 11 lb fire at 10PM. This gentle start allows moisture to slowly escape rather than detonate like a steam grenade. But I wasn’t home.
Batteries 63% slowly climbing. Translation: Off-grid batteries in jeopardy of permanent damage by falling below their 50% limit for capacity. At 2:55PM on a cloudy day they weren’t apt to climb much higher. Overnight they’d lose at least 10%. Now they’re at 53%. If again I trust weather.com---forecasting a sunny Friday---we’d be alright. If I were home, I’d already be firing up the tractor-powered generator. But I wasn’t home.
In a rapid sequence of texts---me frustratingly stuck in the back of the training room---Linda said she’d come to the same conclusion. “Are you worrying?” she asked.
Finally, from the edge of the world, I perceived the layer beneath the layer beneath the layer. “My only concern is you. Batteries seem fine,” I replied.
Such a burden to lay on my sweetie. A week from tomorrow, Nov 7, she’s getting both hips replaced. “We have very high expectations of you,” said the Physician’s Assistant remarking on her vitality and positive attitude. And so do we. But her bone-on-bone hips had enough to bear without a frigid house and the fear of damaged batteries.
So how does this story end? I started my little 5 lb fire in the heater Friday night. We woke to a 57F Saturday morning. Wool socks, slippers, blankets. Today with sunshine and another 20lb fire, we topped out at 73F. I’m t-shirted as I type. Batteries are fine. The sun made a 3 hour appearance Friday morning. 71% when I got home. And on a sunny Sunday they filled to capacity. Even the cord wood is ready to heat our home.
Now I see beyond percentages, between worries about damaged equipment, to my real concern, my real joy, my real reason for being here: to share it all---the agony and the ecstasy---with the love of my life. And we have. And we do. And we will.
We have very high expectations!