Apr 16 2010

Back to the country

Last weekend, we drove out to our house in the countryside. It was the first time we had been there since winter started. November had been unusually warm and we waited till almost the end of the month to finally close up the place. Since we didn’t want to be paying for more electricity than necessary during the winter, we lowered the thermometers on the radiators to the lowest possible temperature, a few degrees above freezing, and we said goodbye till spring. Because we only have running water in the summer and that comes to us pumped up from a lake a few minutes away, the place is truly only a summer house. The water is only for washing and the pump needs to be taken out of the lake before it has a chance to freeze. Drinking water we have to get from a hand pump down the road. Our toilet facilities are equally antiquated – just an outhouse, which isn’t so much fun to use in the winter.

This winter, however, was one of the worst I can remember in the almost 30 years since I first came to Sweden. As soon as December started, it hit us with a fury. All through December, January, February, and even into March, temperatures rarely rose above freezing, often being far below and we have been covered with deep snow continuously even into April. So as we drove out to Stavsnäs, we were wondering how it was there. Here in the city, except for small patches on northern slopes and the slowly shrinking piles left from the snow plows, most of the snow is gone. But as we drove east towards the Stockholm archipelago, we saw more and more snow cover still on the ground.
At the bottom of the driveway is a mound of snow blocking our entry but after a couple of attempts, we get the car over the mound and drive up the hill. A soggy winter wonderland meets our eyes! In the middle of the property is a half-frozen lake. Puddles, ice and snow greeted us.We see patches of deep snow in some places and bare ground or rock in others. Going from one place to another means hopping from one semi-dry patch to another semi-dry patch. Poor judgment results in wet feet but we make it to the house.

snow piled up on the deck under the roofOn the deck, in a line parallel to the house, just under the edge of the roof, is a high pile of snow. It’s what’s left from the snow that slid off the roof, probably all at once, when the weather got a bit warmer and the melting started. On the other side of the house is a similar pile and on that pile lies the steel-plate chimney that surrounded the kitchen fan’s exhaust pipe. The pipe itself is still on the roof but bent double. chimneyThe chimney however, is a mangled piece of metal. It seems that the heavy mass of snow, as it slid off the roof took the chimney with it. We go inside to see if there was any water damage there but the wooden inner ceiling and the hole around the pipe seem OK. That’s a relief. We spend the rest of the afternoon spreading a tarp over the hole and tying it down till we have time to come out and do something more permanent about it. We will definitely be buying a new chimney. Oh, the joys of owning a house. Everyone we talked to about it, kept saying that we are supposed to periodically shovel the snow off the roof. Who wants to shovel snow off a roof?! That’s what I like about living in an apartment building in a city. Someone else gets to take care of that kind of stuff.

After a short walk all around the property to see if any trees have fallen down on anything important, we get into the car and head back to civilization.