Here in western Washington State we decided to hold winter in two weeks instead of spreading it out over a few months. Of course winter might not be over yet.

A week with no electricity. Days with no water. Falling snow that went on and on and on. Highway closed because of so many trees coming down.

Here are the things that made these days safe and not so bad.

A wood stove and a full wood shed. Even though I hated stacking firewood on hot summer days, this is the reason for all that labor. Though honestly, my husband worked harder splitting all the wood. This coming summer we should have plenty of wood to cut because of all the trees that came down.


When company comes, we put them to work.

A generator and full gas cans, thanks again to the husband who fills the cans before winter and makes sure the generator runs. All our gas cans wouldn’t have lasted so many days though, and so we should probably get a few more for next winter. What helped this time was my husband and a neighbor who braved the closed highway, collecting gas cans for others in our tiny community and keeping us all with running generators.


The Blue Scoop. The husband (again, hero of the times) works at the mountain pass and there they use something called a blue scoop. It’s like a weird snow shovel that is big, and you push it like a lawn mower. It moves lots of snow fast and easily, without the backbreaking work of bending as with a traditional snow shovel. As you pile the snow you remove, it can be pushed right up the slope of the pile, and then with a single push forward, the snow slides off the scoop. You can find them on Amazon. They aren’t cheap, but are well worth the money if you live somewhere with lots of snow. With the scoop we were able to keep paths clear to the woodshed, the gates, the generator, and most importantly, the hot tub.


Four years ago when the snow wasn’t as deep, but still…priorities.


A full pantry and a full freezer. The full freezer would have been a liability without the generator to keep it running. But we were never at the point of having to worry about groceries.

A kid. Our son moved back home about a month ago. Didn’t he time that perfectly? So having a young man to use that blue scoop was pretty nice.

Ice caves

Community. There were rough moments with a few people in our little community but I believe it was their fear and worry coming out, and not something that will last. Those moments were mainly due to the lack of water when the water system’s tank ran dry and everyone expected my husband to fix it. Which he did. But there was a wider community of people who donated supplies and delivered them to the mountain neighborhoods. Granted, the supplies came after the highway was open and we were past the worst, but what’s important is that people cared.


Water. I keep gallon jugs of water in the freezer. When power goes out, they can go in the fridge to help keep things cold, or to help keep the freezer cold. When thawed, they provide potable water. This time we knew ahead, so we had full 5-gallon water jugs and a full bathtub. And of course, lots of snow to melt on the wood stove. Though a canner full of snow melts down to a scant inch or so of water so it’s a long process. It works better if you can melt icicles.


Propane. Having the stove be propane rather than electricity allowed us to cook and bake just like it was any other day in the household. Granted, our propane level is now low and the delivery truck feels they still can’t make it up to us. But if it goes out, we have the wood stove.

And today the sun is out. Shortly I will head outside to use the blue scoop now that all the snow is softening some, to do some more clearing. We made it through the week fine, thanks to preparing and planning.

If you were to lose your power and water, could you manage?

winter 08-09 001

Eleven years ago at the old cabin.