If last winter taught me anything, it was the virtue of being prepared.
For the first time I have a car that’s not great in snow, and we had a record-breaking season. Our area experienced several ice storms that wrecked the power lines. Cabin fever became a reality for people who had never heard of it. And I got a parking ticket for parking in a snow emergency route, something I didn’t know existed!
So here are the top 11 things I am doing to prepare this year, plus my favorite cold-weather tip. Feel free to add your own ideas and modify these to suit.
1. Get on your township or borough’s email list. They should send out notices to keep you informed of things like road closures and snow emergencies.
2. Stock up on at least 3 days worth of water, and easy to eat food like canned goods and dried fruit. If the power goes out and you hunker down for a little, you don’t want to be at the store with all the other crazies.
3. Stock a shoebox with candles, matches, batteries, flashlights, and other power-outage essentials. This way you don’t have to hunt for everything when you need it. My box also has individually wrapped antibacterial wipe samples and personal wipe samples, just in case.
4. Pack a bag with a thick sweater, extra socks, a hat, gloves, and a power bar or two, and put it in your car trunk. If my car gets stuck, I can layer up and save gas by not running my car as much, until I’m found. Keep a car charger for your phone and a heavy blanket in your car as well.
5. I wear contacts, so I carry my glasses and a case full of solution with me. My vision is so bad that I’d be helpless if something happened to my contacts.
6. Shop after-Halloween sales and pick up glow-in-the-dark necklaces. You can loop them on your car’s bumper or windshield wipers to stay visible if you’re stuck after dark.
7. Shop end-of-winter sales and pick up some instant hand and foot warmers to keep in your car, and your power-outage shoebox.
8. Don’t leave your house without a full water bottle. And don’t drink it just for fun!
9. Invest in a rechargeable flashlight, that sits in a charger and automatically turns on when the power goes out. This fall I bought this pair (affiliate link.)
10. Invest in a crank-operated radio/flashlight/USB charger for your storm box, and another for your car.
11. Plan for your favorite hunker-down treat. If you’re going to be stuck at home for a little while, you might as well enjoy it! I will be reading Jack London stories in fluffy socks wrapped in a fluffy blanket on my couch, sipping my new favorite adult beverage, Snap (made from a PA Dutch gingersnap recipe!) and bourbon. Come and get me, Winter!
Oh! And here’s my favorite tip- use the cold to your advantage.
Last year, many of my pilates clients lost power for several days, some almost a week, after a bad ice storm. Most of them have since gotten emergency generators, but at the time I heard lots of laments about ruined food from freezers and fridges thawing.
But, hey guys, it’s 12 degrees outside, with 3 feet of snow on the ground. If you toss your stuff out in the snow, it will stay cold! Specifically, anything on top of the snow will freeze to the air temperature, and anything buried in the snow will stay at it’s current temp- snow is a great insulator. So dig a hole for the milk just outside your door, and put your frozen things on the back porch or in an unheated shed. (This is also a great place to store the holiday leftovers.)
Special thanks to Jenna at Cold Antler Farm for her vlog on this topic, and to many of her commenters too. Also, special thanks to my mom and her trusty hurricane box. For continuing tips and ideas, follow my Storm Ready Pinterest board!
Today I started a project I’ve been dreading, and it really wasn’t all that bad! I love it when that happens.
Plantago is a super common lawn and garden ‘weed’, commonly known as Plantain. But not like the banana! It comes in 2 types around here, P. major or the Broad Leaf variety, and P. lanceolata or Narrow Leaf. Believe me, you’ve seen this plant.
P. lanceolata has an annoying little stalk with a cone-shaped head on it, which produces tiny flowers. This stalk is very tough and very flexible- it bends double when the lawnmower pushes on it, and springs back up once the blades are past. Hence, it is a bane for ‘perfect lawn’ people.
P. major also has a stalk, but this one produces flowers along the length of it. Last year I cultivated this wild plant in my garden, weeding around certain plants and encouraging them to grow big and lush. This year the flower stalks were huge- some grew 6 inches long or more.
After they flowered, they started producing seeds. The seed pods started out small and green, and as they matured turned a dusky purple. Once most of the stalk was purple, I harvested it near the ground. Many of the stalks were beginning to turn brown where they joined the leaves at the basal rosette when I harvested.
The stalks were left to dry on a sheet of paper to catch seeds, then I stripped them into a jar. I just stuck the stalk upside down in a jar, pinched the end of it with my fingers and pulled to ‘strip’ off the seeds and their husks.
This is where the project sat for the last few months. There was a lot of husks and chaff in the jar, and I don’t have seed screens. How was I going to separate them?
Finally today, I sat down with some tools. In the end, this is what worked the best- and it was easy too!
First, a spoonful of seeds and husks went into a wire strainer with a large-ish mesh. That was over a metal bowl, and I shook it to separate the loose seeds. Then that spoonful went into a mortar. I used a clay one with grooves and a wooden pestle. A few turns and lots of seeds had been broken out of their pods, so it all went back into the strainer. Another grind or two and the strainer was full of empty seed husks, which I threw out.
A spoonful at a time, the seeds were sifted into the metal bowl, along with a considerable amount of chaff. Then came the fun part.
I took the bowl outside, shook it to settle the seeds and bring the chaff to the top, and very gently blew on the bowl. The chaff puffed up and blew away. I took a deep breath and blew in a steady stream, turning the bowl and disturbing the seeds, which curved up the sides of the bowl and fell back in. I got lots of chaff on my glasses and in my hair but it wasn’t in the bowl anymore!
I got a little carried away and ended up blowing too hard and losing some of the seeds. Next time, I’ll remember to stay very gentle and let it take a little longer, and maybe use a deeper bowl.
But now I have a half pint jar of Plantain seeds ready for eating! I’m going to sprinkle them on things like poppy seeds, and make a gomaiso-like blend with toasted Milk Thistle and Nettle and something else, maybe Thyme. Dulse would be good but I’m out… I read somewhere that these seeds are very high in B vitamins so I want to do some more research, but I’m pleased with my harvest.
Do you trust your instincts, the little voice that makes every fiber in you vibrate “YES!” or “NO!”? Do you trust it all the time, unconditionally? Or do you second guess your gut? And are you ever wrong?
I do, and I have been wrong, and I’ve also been so right. What is this gut that we can put such faith in?
We could talk about your enteric brain, a second nervous system in your digestive system whose "aberrations are responsible for a lot of suffering."
Or we could mention the plethora of traditions that employ digestive metaphors to the gut. Just look at ours-
Butterflies in the stomach
Something negative eating away at you
I’ll have to digest that idea and get back to you
But really, when we get down to it, a gut feeling is a whole body experience, that doesn’t have to be very logical, and that has been responsible for at least a few adventures in all our lives.
Our experiences play into our gut feelings. We meet people and learn about them, which informs us when we next meet people. We have accidents or terrifying near-misses driving cars, which inform us the next time we’re in traffic.
Our brain also plays into this, very often in a negative manner. Giving ourselves time to think about a choice or a situation or whatever has frequently led me to a wrong decision (or what I’m now calling “learning opportunities!”)
My emotions seem to spend a lot of time in direct conflict with my instincts- or rather, I notice this conflict more clearly after my instinct has been overruled. I find it pretty easy to think about and analyze my feelings, but find it very hard to stop long enough to clearly analyze my instincts.
This difficulty comes up most when my instinct is telling me something I don’t want to hear. When I’m all in agreement- head, heart and gut- it’s no problem. But when my gut throws up a red flag, it’s easy to let my feelings and my thinking trample it.
But here’s the fabulous part- we can practice using our instincts!
Start in small, non-important ways to ‘get the feel of it’:
Think about conversations from your day- did you said something without thinking that turned out to be the perfect thing to say?
Sit at a red light and try to guess who will start picking their nose.
On the Witch Camp forum there's been a thread discussing Intuition. One Camper said, "just close your eyes and notice what comes up... Once you think you've got something, notice if your body relaxes or tenses. That will be a clue. Feeling a lightness in your energy might also give you a clue. Eventually you'll find a pattern."
Work your way up to bigger things:
When you’re walking, spend some time focused on your gut, and turn down a side street or take a different path just because you felt something. Then notice what’s around you, and maybe you’ll see something new or exciting.
When you’re thinking of a friend, call them or send them an email. Or try to anticipate what the next person you see will say to you.
Start noticing all the happy coincidences around you, and know nothing is a coincidence. Your instincts already knew!
Edit: The day after posting, I came across this in one of my favorite blogs, Remedial Eating. Spidey sense indeed- it seems the instinct to think about our instincts right now is widespread. Coincidence?
"It is hard to know, sometimes, when to retreat, and when to plow ahead. When to double down, give it your all, go Nike *rah-rah* and just do it. And when to mindfully step away. I tend to be all about noses and grindstones, packing it in, piling it high, but am learning, I think (I hope), to trust my Spidey sense a nudge more. At least to tune in. At least not to turn it off, swiftly and automatically. Progress."
Fun Fact: I'm an herbalist and a movement coach. Not a doctor, or a pharmacist, and not pretending to be one on TV.
This is a public space, so my writing reflects my experiences and I try to stay general enough so it might relate to you. This does not constitute medical advice, and I encourage you to discuss concerns with your doctor. Remember, however, that the final say in your wellness decisions are always yours- you have the power to choose, you are the boss of you.
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