I can’t remember the first time I was told that the Eskimo have several (dozens? hundreds?) of names for snow. It should come as no surprise that I find myself reflecting upon that factoid these days. There are the various forms of falling snow: from small, stinging particles to fat, fluffy flakes. And there are the various forms of snow that lie beneath the foot that can range from an easy, thin layer that barely covers the ground, to large drifts of powder that one can sink into as easily as any quicksand, to hard packs of heavy snow that can be traversed on foot, or even more easily with the benefit of snow shoes.
Pony has been getting the hang of snow shoes. I haven’t given them a try as yet, but expect that I will before too much longer. Rufus has developed an interesting, low-crouching gait as he tests out a patch of new snow. We are, all of us, learning new things about winter on Casper Mountain.
Our room-mate, Trey, works for the Fort Casper Museum. This requires him to rise at about 6am each weekday to get showered and dressed and heading out the cabin by about 7, to trek the half-mile up to the main road where we park our cars. He has been willing to swing by the grocery store on the way home at night for the odd extra item. We have made two trips since installing ourselves in the cabin; both times stocking up on a prodigious load of supplies that were then carted down to the cabin by way of a small, purple, plastic sled.
But, for the most part, we are content to stay in or near the cabin. My morning usually begins with throwing on clothes to take Rufus out to do his business. This is usually followed by carting some wood and coal from the bins into the inner part of the cabin to use in the two pot-belly stoves. We use only one stove for most of the day, waiting till evening to fire up the second stove in the kitchen (in this way, we try to pace ourselves in the burning of wood). We have more coal available to us than wood, and consequently try to make greater use of it. But I am still learning about coal. Put too much in, and it can damp the fire and even put it out. There is almost an art to find the right amount to feed into the fire, and to gauging the timing of it, as well.
After loading in the coal and wood for the day, it is usually necessary to clean out yesterday’s ashes from each of the stoves before rebuilding a fire. Each stove has a lower chamber, with a tray that catches ashes from the grill that holds the fuel in the upper chamber. In this way, one can remove most of the ashes that have fallen down into that tray and still have hot coals glowing from the night before with which to rekindle a fire. I generally wait on getting a shower until after all this labor of loading up fuel and setting new fires. By the time these various chores have been attended to, breakfast is usually served about mid-morning.
The rest of the morning and the afternoon are devoted to practicing guitar, working on booking for the next leg of the tour and dealing with other matters of business, interspersed with moments outside with Rufus. At around sunset, I take some time to meditate, followed by playing more guitar, while Pony puts dinner together (a couple of times I have taken on the duty of fixing dinner, but the former arrangement works pretty well for both of us). Trey usually returns from work to find us engaged in these activities. He and I had talked about the possibility of his grabbing an occasional guitar lesson (he has a used Ibanez acoustic that will do nicely for such), and he had his first lesson with me last night.