Wednesday, January 03, 2007

chop wood, carry water, ride school bus

It occurred to me today, driving along the 4-mile cinder road that runs across the north end of the prairie from our house to the Interstate, that the Nicole Show plays with much less static interference in California than it does in Arizona. Not that I'm not a self-centered navel gazer here - far from it. But living the way we do in this state requires a level of interaction with the basics of life - food, warmth, shelter, transportation - that is completely unnecessary in the Bay Area, where tap water magically appears via miles of ground pipe and where you have to put forth some serious effort if you want to drive on a dirt road. It's taking a good deal of energy just to get used to the idea of our return to rural life, much less actually doing what needs to be done. I'm afraid I've taken to the past year of relative luxury like a moth to a flame, and the end result might be the same if I don't cowgirl up right quick.

Yesterday my husband and brother-in-law moved our new, several-hundred-pound wood stove from the bed of the PowerStroke (that's our old Ford diesel truck for those electric car drivers out there - not that there's anything wrong with electric cars) to our living room, where it waits on a pallet for the Wood Stove Installer Guy (the WSIG, not to be confused with the WIG) to come out and set it up. It's too late in the season to get a wood cutting permit from the Forest Service now, but come Fall we'll be filling the Thermos with hot cocoa or apple cider and heading out with the stock trailer toward Ash Fork, or the Rez or the Grand Canyon to cut next winter's wood supply.

Between now and then we'll make hundreds of water hauling trips either to the local water station, or to the one near the big truck stop between here and Flagstaff if the local one's down. And if we're still closing out this 8-year-or-so drought cycle when summer rolls around, it's likely that underground water table will get too low to supply both of those wells, and we'll have to drive the 30 miles into town to fill up the 500 gallon tank before driving it back home and emptying the water into our cistern. Add thirsty horses to that equation and you can start to see how water quickly becomes a precious commodity here.

One thing that won't take any getting used to - and to which I'm looking forward come tomorrow morning - is the return of the school bus into our lives. There's nothing quite like the rush of hearing that big yellow behemoth rumbling down our washboarded road at 7:35 a.m. and realizing that if the boy does not cram that last piece of toast into his mouth, put on both of his shoes, find his backpack and don his winter parka all in one simultaneous moment, he's going to miss the bus, and Mom will have to drive him to school in the 12-degree weather. Which does not make Mom happy. And as we all know, if Mama ain't happy, ain't NOBODY happy.

Okay, okay, I'm still working on the self-centered, navel gazing thing, but - Lord have mercy - the toenail polish from that last luxurious California pedicure is barely dry. So please, you rural wunderkind neighbors, cut me some slack. Except for Jackie who, if she's noticed my citified status, has been kind enough to bite her tongue.


  1. You're not kidding about the rural thing. Geez, I wouldn't last an hour! You're giving me flashbacks to Frontier House (PBS "reality show" we rented--and were glued to--that's actually educational and soap opera-esque at the same time). I had no idea it was so cold there either. I spent one weekend in Chicago--in March--and turned down a chance to work at Christianity Today because I couldn't stand the chill (well, that was one of the reasons).

    I told Joy that Sarah is now the country mouse and she is the city mouse (a story we've read that I think I like more than she does). It's funny, though, because whenever I read that story, I always identify more with the country mouse. Maybe I just want the best of both worlds, which is why I like suburbia :)

  2. I am posting the following comment for Jackie, who was having Blogger trouble this morning. ~Nicole

    Well my friend, you hide your citification well! But don't be fooled..I DO remember the fond days of old, ("back in the day" as Kayla refers to it) back when hearing someone running tap water did not send me into an immediate frenzy - rushing to the faucet in question, to discover the identity of the child who is washing up so haphazardly. It was only here that I first heard the quaint phrase "if it's yellow let it mellow.." I remember the days of sacheting up to the thermostat and cranking it up to 90 for a little instant gratification..Before I had a thousand tiny woodchips embedded in my carpet. I remember the joy of zipping down to the all night corner 'mart' (on paved roads I might add) for a box of twinkies and a pack of smokes between commercial breaks for Seinfeld. But just remember this: Here in this place some would call the boonies, BFE, or the Sticks ~ WE are living much more responsibly and 'greener' than the rest of the world. It's a kind of modern day Little House on the Prairie, Where we use our resources to the fullest potential, wasting nothing, because we have a vision of how hard it was to GET it here to begin with. I often joke with DH about how California wouldn't be in a drought if everyone was placed on a MANDATORY 1,000 gallon maximum a week. Just imagine those Rodeo Drive ladies, out there in their Versaci outfits and Gucci shoes, climbing up onto the systern, struggling to get the water valve open.. ::Grin::

  3. Interesting to know.