Do you hear what I hear

Yesterday was all about noise. The temperatures came up to a balmy -10 (plus wind chill, but I’m trying not to focus on that, except for the calculation of frostbite risk) and I only went out a few times, and not for long. I can stand the cold if it’s still, but the wind drives the cold right into me and gives me earaches, even with hat (and hood.) I did hike to the gate and see if the road was still there.


It is. It only seems like there nobody left but me. The warmer temperatures made it possible for all sorts of things to happen. For starters, the deer were out in force. I guess they had largely hunkered down in the extreme cold, something that only proves to me that the know what they’re doing out here. I’d be sitting in the house writing or knitting and hear the sound of branches, then look up and see them looking right back. They’re bold as brass as long as you don’t go outside. Around dinner I was making a salad and two of them watched me rather intently through the window, I could almost imagine their conversation. “Dude, is that greenfood? Where did that small human get the greenfood? She looks warm in there. Can we get warm? Can we get the greenfood?” I was sort of nervous about opening the door after that, since I thought that their lack of opposable thumbs and therefore, the ability to turn doorknobs, left them with only the solution of rushing the door when I opened it.

Knitting in the early afternoon, sorry.. knitting what? Oh. Right. Knitting blog. Forgive me. Knitting on a pair of socks in the afternoon,


you’ve seen these before, sort of. I had them started and got all the way to the heel when I realized accepted that the yarn, for which I’d misplaced the label, wasn’t actually STR in Lightweight, but STR in mediumweight. Knit at my standard gauge for socks, which is pretty firm to begin with, in this heavier yarn they were practically foot armour. They have been yanked back, and are now being knit on larger needles (My Grafton Fiber ones. I love these.) with fewer stitches. Much better. I have no idea why it took a half a sock to deal with it. I knew it was wrong and I just kept on going. Depressing lack of intellect. In any case, my poor intellect and i were knitting on those socks, and suddenly there was a huge crash. Then another… it went on and on, and it was so sudden and loud that it scared the wits of me. I ran from window to window, it was (remember, poor intellect) several frightened minutes before I actually saw what was happening. The house had been bedecked with massive icicles.


(These were taken the first day, before these big icicles got massive)

When the sun and higher temps warmed up the metal roof, all of them came crashing off, very nearly simultaneously. I can’t tell you what went through my head before I figure it out, but it involved deer on the roof.


It took me a while to settle down after that, but settle I did, (scotch would have been faster than tea, but I didn’t have any) and shortly after I’d gotten a grip back on myself, there was an earthquake. Or a bomb, or Something with a capital S. Out of the blue, there was an enormous CRACK-SMASH. It was just one of the biggest noises ever. It literally shook the ground and rattled the windows. It was all I could do not to throw myself under the desk. I may have screamed. I’ve been a little on edge anyway, and this noise was so massive that I lost it. I looked out the window, thinking that….well. I don’t know what I thought I would do, actually, the noise was so big that I can’t imagine that whatever made it would be something i could defend myself from.

Off to the side, at the edge of the river was sort of a rising column of snow or mist or something. Tree fall? Ice Crack? The ice makes some pretty trippy noises, and icecrack can be crazy loud, but I’m going to go with tree fall.

Scared me half to death. I tried to hike down there later, but the deer were uninterested and hadn’t blazed a trail for me, so I remained curious.

The whole day went on like that. The wind made noise, the trees made noise, deer made noise. Branches fell, the ice growled… an enormous fight was waged by crows in the tree by the door. it was a crazy amount of noise, a super loud day. By the nighttime, I had just about gotten used to it, and as I was knitting (I swear I’m writing. I think I just only hear stuff while I’m knitting.) I suddenly realized that things had changed again.

There was no noise. None. I went to the door and went out, and I understood straightaway.

Snow. Snow was falling all around me, and whatever noise the world around me was inclined to make was wholly muffled by the snow. I tipped my head back and watched it swirl out of the darkness.

Then I went inside. It may have been beautiful, but it was #$ª%^^£¢∞§**ing cold out there.

160 thoughts on “Do you hear what I hear

  1. I wish I was there…. (sigh)
    Enjoy!! (and it’s starting to warm up now – HURRAY!!!!)

  2. Ohhh! First. Have a wonderful time all alone. At least we don’t have to miss your adventures.

  3. I hate those sudden, LOUD random noises.
    While spending a week in “cabins” with no electricity or running water for a week, my friend’s dad lit fire crackers under our bedroom. As in, he crawled under the raised cabin and sat under our room until he knew we were in there and then set them off (pointing out into free space).
    I don’t think we managed to sleep that night.

  4. All that crashing and slamming and roaring would have scared the bejeezus outta me, too. Nature is capable of conjuring up some pretty startling sound effects at times. I’m glad you got to end your day with some nice, quiet snow – I love how peaceful it is to watch.
    I hope your stay in mountain-land is as effective for your writing time as it is for providing us with entertainment!

  5. Wow, I guess the only good thing about having the bejeezus scared out of you by the loud noises; is not having someone there to make fun of you when you freak out! If the warm trend continues, be careful going outside, you wouldn’t want to be knocked on the noggin by some falling ice, eh?

  6. Ice can be evil in it’s noise. The worst I ever heard was the ice on the lake booming. While I was on it. For the first time. My DH thought it was hysterically funny- I wasn’t quite so amused. It still is one of the most impressive of natures sound and fury.

  7. How is that you are able to maintain a connection to the outside world (e.g.; internet)? they have wireless up there? really good highspeed??? magic?

  8. The deer were watching you! I know it’s crazy and weird but I think it’s just so cool when an animal watches a person…..maybe it’s like when humans watch construction going on; it’s fascinating and different!

  9. Wow, am I number 1? My significant other once had a similar experience with roof crashing noises. It turned out to be raccoons, eating plums off the tree in the backyard.

  10. Stephanie you are a gem !
    You make me smile every day. Thank You.
    Enjoy your winterlude escapade… I sure am !!

  11. First time I heard the snow sheeting off my metal roof, at 3 in the morning, I did not think of (rein)deer. I did of the 1812 overture, and wonder, who declared war on VT? And what were they doing over my head (at 3 in the morning, most things are over my head, covers included)

  12. Hi Stephanie – I’m loving your getaway reports. It’s good to remember that Nature carries on, even though we’re not (usually) there to witness it. As for Nature here on Long Island, I just saw my first crocus today, and I’m on my way out to look for Snow Drops.

  13. Do those bookshelves include a copy of L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle? Because I think that’s the appropriate reading material for where you are.
    (Actually I think TBC is appropriate reading material for a lot of times and places, but it’s especially perfect for solitude and nerves in a small isolated Canadian house in winter.)

  14. Thank you so much Steph for writing to us on a Saturday and letting us know you are OK. The last post scared me and I was worried for you.
    We have ice storms where I live and they are really loud too, all those branches breaking and trees falling.
    Take care and be careful. I hope this time has been productive in the writing department.

  15. I’ve been sitting in the woods and heard what I swear was Bigfoot coming up behind me. Turned out to be those little bitty birds – you know – the little brown jobs. Amazing how much noise something so small can make.

  16. Nature sure is beautiful, but it can definetly be scary too. Things that you would normally laugh off if you were with someone else are incredibly unsettling while by yourself.

  17. Well, you’re not the only one – I was making a pair of socks with Fleece Artist yarn and got all the way to starting the heel, before I finally admitted that it was too tight to easily get on my foot. Frogged it completely and now I’m starting over on larger needles. Guess sometimes we just don’t want to admit what’s happening.

  18. Just think – by the time you leave there, not only will you have a bunch of writing done for your book, but probably nothing will ever scare you again! 🙂

  19. Warmerness. That’s what we’re calling it here today. It’s presently 58 degrees F on my little mountain, and I can walk outside with the dog in bare feet. I am wearing only one layer and am not cold. The heat is not even kicking in in the house.
    I would trade all of this for snow that doesn’t melt as it hits the ground.
    The snow is always whiter on the other side of the fence, apparently.

  20. i just had to tell you how much i’m vicariously enjoying your solo snowbound adventure! if the book is half as gripping as your posts of the last few days, i won’t be able to put it down. only two more days, right? *pout* i mean – not that i’m wishing anything on you – just that i’m really really fascinated by all this.
    could that last big *crack* have been an avalanche? that would send snowy misty stuff up, right? ‘course if you’re in the flats, it couldn’t be an avalanche.
    watch out for deer, and keep on purlin’

  21. You are such a good writer. Absolutely wonderful. I’m new to the blog – but your essays take me away, absorb me, make me laugh and always make me smile (or cry!!). I actually am excited to check in here every day – catch up on old posts, read the new ones. You are a delight.
    Thanks for torturing me with those beautiful Grafton Fiber needles – I’ve never seen those before and now I’m obsessed with getting them and already spent 10 minutes looking for how the heck to find them in my area. They are beautiful!! I usually knit in metal – but with little things in the round they tend to slide more – so I’m thinking of moving to wood … and here you are torturing me with these needles. I’ll DREAM about them tonight!!

  22. So, I’m starting to understand the stereotype of writers with their affinty for hard liquor! It was not to court the muses, it was to quell the noise of solitude! And I’m wondering if you will be able to bring your knitting to the asylum, because at this rate your nerves are gonna be beyond repair.

  23. You have to believe that you are the scariest thing in the forest (assuming that the bears are all still snoozing). The theory is that the deer are more scared of you than you are of them but I’m not sure if that’s the case. Don’t let them know that you’re a veggie and you might just pull it off.

  24. If you really want to make the deer snigger – sit outside and knit.
    Especially when you create your interpretive dances of happiness that The Cat was so uninterested in.

  25. Enjoying your trip vicariously, but as it has finally warmed up to 56 F, I’m glad I’m here. I hope you check out Lene’s entry in Dances with Wool today. It’s an interesting contrast to your feelings on being alone in the woods.

  26. I love the snow and we don’t get much in Virginia anymore. The only time I don’t like it is when it snows, then has freezing rain, then sleet, then a little bit of thaw, then snow, then, etc., etc. Then, when you walk, you fall through the whole mess up to your knee!
    Have fun!

  27. I agree with Judith (3:41). You heard an ice event. Since you’re near a river, not a lake, I suspect the Very Big Noise down by the river was an ice dam letting go. The weather you describe sounds perfect for it. The weather warms just enough, the ice lets go, and all the water that’s been backing up (and freezing some) behind it comes rushing down, like a spring flood. The ice pieces in the water are like rocks, and add plenty of noise to the rushing water. And there’s a lot of atmospheric stuff to go with it.
    Here’s a link to a video of an ice dam letting go not too far from my home in Vermont (I hope the link is still active). If you’re not on a high-speed connection, knit on the beautiful socks while the video loads. Then be impressed.

  28. I am enjoying reading your cabinblog very much! If it wasn’t for the fact that you are trying to be alone (OK, so that is *the* reason you are there) I would respectfully suggest an elite knitting retreat for a select few of your blog readers – oh, and you. I think that a weekend in the woods would be great, drinking great pots of coffee and large bottles of wine, knitting and spinning, and we could definitely keep those vegetable-thieving deer from rushing the door.
    A very different experience than your current week of peace and calmness, but hell, we just want to party with the Harlot!

  29. I’m enjoying these posts so much; hope the book-writings’s coming along with the same degree of lyrical élan! We had gales here last night – first ones this winter so there was some consternation as to whether something was going to fall off, or onto, the house. Good luck with the rest of the stay…

  30. Load music or such would block out all those strange noises, I hate when you are all into something esp like sleep and a startling noise disturbs you and only happens once so you cant figure out what it is. This happens in apartments alot for me esp with my catsk too.
    Hope you are getting good work done between all this startles.

  31. Doesn’t it make you wonder how those hearty pioneer women made it through every winter on the prairie with sanity intact?

  32. Too funny. I hope it’s not disrespectful that I am laughing at your misadventures. I promise to buy 5 copies of the book when it comes out, because you are just too entertaining!

  33. I think it looks really beautiful there. And nature is totally loud (and never louder and more frightening than when a bear is foraging around the outside of your tent in the middle of the night. ahem). Enjoy the “silence”. Hee.
    But dude, seriously? Who goes to the cabin to write without scotch? Hemingway would be so disappointed.

  34. Wow, that must have been some sunny day to make the icicles melt at -10. It’s been in the 30s here, and our icicles have been tenaciously hanging on for literally weeks!

  35. Sounds like you’re gonna have this whipped soon. By the time you leave you’ll be ready to move to the woods. Yeah.

  36. I hadn’t ralized just how much I missed the Northern winters (living now in Seattle) until reading your last few posts. I mean, I knew that I missed the snow and headed up into the mountain passes a couple of times to snowshoe for a quick fix, but the silence of snowfall, the gunshot crack of ice over water breaking up in the melts, the sudden crashing of tree branches over-laden with ice and snow. Oh – now I am homesick for those Michigan winters…

  37. Hey there Steph –
    I think you are really very brave to have sent yourself off to such solitude without ever having done such a thing before. And I’m glad you’re blogging daily so we all know you are still there, warm and well. Don’t miss a day until you can tell us you’re back home!
    I do seem to recall that you had a bit of an issue with the deer who shared your open air phone booth last year at sock camp . . . even though they did nothing more than munch the grass nearby and listen in on your conversations with Joe. I’m sure the deer of the far north are similar . . . they find humans interesting but not tasty or worth mugging, even for a salad. Looking through your windows must be the most technicolor part of their entire winter.
    Can’t wait to read your next book! Stay safe, smart, and warm and don’t fall through any cracks in the snow, no matter how curious you are about something off the deer-approved trails.

  38. Wow, it’s beautiful there. And isn’t it fun to hear all the different sounds? I hope you enjoy your last few days! =)

  39. You are one brave woman, especially in such a beautiful (and desolate) area. Just think how wonderful teenagers and one bathroom will seem after all this solitude. Glad you’re writing, too — enjoy the “peace and quiet” and deer.

  40. When it’s really cold, sometimes the sap will freeze and tree branches will literally explode. That might have been the really big noise.

  41. I’ve just been on my own for three weeks, I loved it. Okay, not as remote as you, I would love it. It is scary though and I did think that I should take my sharp knitting needles to bed with me and every night I resisted the tempation, just because I knew I would wake and grab at them for every tiny little noise. I just woke early, pottered, knit, pottered, walked, then pottered, knit and bed… The key to sleep in a strange place is, to wake up early and move.. apologies if that seems a bit brutal, I just found it worked for me.

  42. Thanks for taking me along to your Icy Paradise! It doesn’t snow at all where I live. Just seeing the snow makes me want to knit!

  43. I’m glad the deer are looking in the windows first and noticing that, hey, dude, this is a barrier. My mom as a kid had a deer jump through the living room picture window after a severe snowstorm in the mountains her house was up next to. The storm had driven down deer that weren’t used to being around houses, much less the city where she was.

  44. i would like to be alone… with you!
    I find deers cute but maybe they have a secret weapon that make them very dangerous in Canada?
    Please take care and follow their trace exactly.
    warm hugs from switzerland (It is almost spring here! Can you believe it?)

  45. Since I, and the majority of modern readers have never been exposed to living in temperatures that cold, how are you, up there in Nature’s Icebox, keeping that fresh greenfood from becoming greenice? Are you keeping the veggies in a woolbox? 😉
    Other than that numbing cold and the restless (but informed) natives, it sounds like a grand writerly retreat.

  46. You know, the human brain does strange things to protect us from what we don’t understand. I remember honestly NOT believing that straight sticks could pull a loop through another loop because there were no hooks on the ends. I saw all kinds of handknits, read blogs, etc . . . but I still couldn’t accept it as reality. (I was a crocheter for 20 years before I learned to knit about two years ago.)
    Lack of intellect? No way. More like ancient self-preservation reflexes from an earlier age of humankind. Either way though, you’re in good company. ;o)

  47. When you finish the book you are writing, what about expanding your blogs on your ‘quiet adenture’ into an article or a book?
    cheers. naomi

  48. Steph – as usual you are hilarious. Try not to get lost in the snow whilst doing the Hemingway thing (I’m coming to see you in London in September).

  49. It was cheering to see another blog entry from you, Stephanie, and know that you are handling your cabin time pretty well, so far. We knew you would.
    I love the beautiful socks you’re working on! They’re very colorful and uplifting in the midst of all the woodsy, snowy atmosphere you have around you. Funny how a great pair of handknit socks can make the world (or your day) so much cozier!
    Thanks for the update. Keep writing!
    ~ Dar

  50. oh thank you for having me in stitches again. “dude is that greenfood” priceless!!
    maybe a whale ventured up the river? 😛 hehe sorry silly mode now!
    sarah, who’s very surprised that the internet doesn’t count as distracting company!

  51. A question for you Stephanie…
    I have been reading your blog for some time now, and let me tell you I do love to read it. But I notice that a person like you, someone extremely busy as you are, seems to crank out a lot of FO’s. I’m not jealous (well, maybe a bit) and I do really enjoy them, but I would like to know how you do it.
    Do you
    a) Have really four arms so you simply have twice the output that we two armed people have,
    b) Do you have a twin you kept secret,
    c) Do we find the 7 dwarfs in your basement, enslaved and underpaid?
    Well, I’d love to know, really. I do knit pretty fast, and as I can’t leave the house much I knit a lot. But I just can’t match your output by any means, so to speak.
    Please keep them coming! And enjoy the beautiful nature around you.

  52. Just mailing to say how much I am enjoying your adventures with solitude and ice. It’s something I could imagine myself doing but I don’t know if I could cope with the reality!

  53. It sounds like you’re having an incredible experience out there. It looks really beautiful. I hope you’re getting the writing done that you were aiming for! Good luck! Either way, though, it seems like kind of a cool/good experience to have as a human (except for the ungodly cold temps).

  54. Stephanie dear, it’s the wrong season for deer on the roof. That was two months ago! LOL
    And now we also know. Yes, the tree, ice, deer, whatever, make noise even if you weren’t there to hear it!

  55. I too love the quiet sound of falling snow. What I don’t know about is being watched by deer while I’m making dinner. There is something precious about being studied by nature.

  56. It always amazes me how everything else just stops when it’s snowing. The snow makes a noise, though. White noise.

  57. If you want to take a break from writing books about knitting, write a travel book. You’re rivetting.

  58. Oh, Steph, I am so jealous of you and your solitude. I grew up in the hinterlands of New England and am familiar with having deer, fox and moose traipse through the yard (and down the street in some instances). Metal roofs are a relatively new addition and the sliding ice and snow always give off wonderful crashes. Every time I get lonely for the snowy quiet, I drive up from the SF Bay Area to stay at a little cabin in the Lake Tahoe woods. No tv. Just my i-Pod, books and knitting. It’s pretty restorative. Keep posting. We live vicariously through your adventures…

  59. It sounds beautiful where you are… it reminds me of when i was younger and living in Minnesota and we would go visit our cabin up north. Freezing cold but unbelievably beautiful. i’ve enjoyed reading your blog these last few days as much as i have enjoyed your books!!

  60. How could you go to an isolated cabin without scotch? Not even a nip for emergencies? Crazy, lady. Looking forward to seeing you in New York in a month!

  61. Ok, I can’t be the only one who read this blog and thought about the movie My Cousin Vinny, can I?
    I keep picturing Vinny, trying to adjust to small town and then woods noises.
    Don’t think he would have handled the inquistive deer as well as you.
    My flu and I are going to lay back down now. Thanks for the giggle.

  62. To be honest, my forest experience has been that all the crashing and rustling is done by squirrels and very small birds. Bears (at least the black ones I see regularly) are phenomenally quiet. I have been on a path within 3 or 4 feet of one and heard not a sound – just happened to spot him among the shadows.

  63. You know I’m a big fan, but I can’t remember any entries I have enjoyed more than these last few. Just wonderful!

  64. If you decided you want to do this again, but maybe not QUITE so isolated, I have a farmhouse in Ohio that we only use occasionally and I’d let you use. Its quiet, has deer (but not crazy ones), but close to town (and they have a delightful little yarn store there!). Maybe a 5 hour drive from Toronto. I just spent a week there and much appreciated the solitude. Check the URL – and email me if you’re ever interested. I love your writing – and your knitting!

  65. I’m still trying to imagine a place where -10 is not seriously cold. Brrrrr. The *sound* of the snow falling brought back magical childhood memories.

  66. last week, one day when it was warm, (in the 50°(f)) i took a bowl of ice with me when i went out to the terrace to knit.. and then i heard squeeking.. almost like a mouse.. (there are no mice on my 14th floor terrace!) evently, i realize it was the ice.. the cubes were rubbing against each other and squeeking..
    Ice make so many noises…
    (and there is nothing quite like the dead quite of falling snow–strange how liquid water gurgles, and frozen water has a vocabular of sounds, but crystlized water is silent! (steam is just as noise as ice i think!)

  67. I love the sort of deafening silence that snow falling in the woods make–so peaceful and calm. Sounds like perfect writing conditions!

  68. When I’m home alone, I am so JUMPY! Every noise, every crack, is someone outside. I usually go to bed at 9pm, but when I’m alone, I’m lucky if I’m asleep by 11:30. But the worst part about it is that I grew up in the Bronx: I was not jumpy then, there were so many people! I’m in non-crowded suburbia now, much different. But despite the fear, I would still like to have your experience right now. I love being alone and in the woods (with shelter, thank you). Wait a minute…I may be one of the ones that freezes or breaks something though. Maybe not such a good idea after all…
    Enjoy it for me!

  69. These posts are my FAVORITE ever Stephanie. What an awesome treat for your readers. You really should write more novels, you’re so gifted at pulling us in and leaving us wanting more! I can’t wait to read the next post and want to go re-read the last ones…Thanks for an awesome blog. 🙂

  70. I love metal roofs. There’s nothing like the sound of snow or ice falling off. But I like loud noises. Glad it wasn’t a Paul Bunion sized axe murder, chopping his way through the woods! Hope you enjoy the rest of your solitude.

  71. The deer aren’t squabbling over who took the purple hair tie, are they? I think you’re still ahead of the game.

  72. What an enchanting place you have found in which to do your writing.
    Can you imagine that some people living in large cities have never heard these noises or seen the crows and deer?? And they think they have it all.

  73. This is so wonderful to read. I hope your book is as enchanting as these posts!
    YOu don’t have a radio, do you? If you did, I’d turn it on and try to muffle those crazy crashes. (Do you have electricity at all?)

  74. I’ve just come back from 5 weeks in Victoria and can’t figure out what this white stuff is here in southern Ontario. And it is in big piles all along my driveway.

  75. you are so very brave…I think I would have high-tailed it out of there after the first crashes and yet you are STILL THERE!! Nothing like nature to scare the bejezus out of you!

  76. Eventually the deer will get so used to you that they will be knocking on the door and asking for the greenfood, and if you are lucky they’ll say please. Our have gotten so adjusted to our presence that they just lay there and sleep, maybe flick an ear, while we chop wood, walk dog, run snowblower, etc. There’s maybe 16 of them when they’re in force. The lot next to my house is the Bambi Hampton Inn, with free breakfast and wireless internet.

  77. Sounds amazing, and sounds like you are settling in very well. I don’t think that it would matter where you were…loud unusual noise is, well, loud unusual noise, and it needs to be first questioned(feared?), inspected and in nature respected. I think that you handled that the way any body would!!
    Keep warm and cozy and eat some chocolate after that salad!

  78. I heard a tree fall once, in the middle of the night, woke me up out of sound sleep. It was probably about 300 ft away, and amazingly, impressively, scary loud. And So Ca trees aren’t loaded with ice and snow…

  79. One of the loudest noises I have heard at the cottage was a beaver’s tail slapping the water. It’s incredibly powerful. And did you know that beavers also vocalize? They make a sort of chuck-chuck noise. That’s beaver talk for “I’ll be chewing down a couple of your favourite trees tonight while you’re sleeping.” It happened. They were trees my husband had planted. The most scary noise was in the summer of 2006, when a huge tornado roared through cottage country. The sound of the wind was something I’d rather not ever hear again. I’m really enjoying your posts right now. Do you think you could maybe get an extension on this Thoreau thing, so we can keep on enjoying your posts from the wild?

  80. I know this is going to sound absolutely bonkers, but I’m kindof longing for your Canadian winter. Down here (deep down) in Texas, we barely saw freezing temperatures this winter, much less snow swirling out of the darkness. My kids were ecstatic last year when we had a measly 1/2 inch of snow that lasted all of two hours before the sun burned it off. I know all about the all encompassing heat of a brutal summer, but I’m intrigued by the idea of an all encompassing cold of a brutal (though beautiful) winter.

  81. I’m so incredibly jealous of your time in the woods. But I have to say- you went to be alone in the frozen woods for six days, WITHOUT scotch? 🙂

  82. That is such a neat thing that you are doing – “listening to the silence” or at times “the noise”. A dose of solitude is so good for everyone and I hope it has been productive for you. My husband is very chatty and he is going to a silent retreat near Seattle next weekend. For 2 days, no one can talk. Of all the guys that he has invited to join him, no one has returned – except my husband. The rest found it too quiet. Take care

  83. Thanks for sharing these days, Steph. I grew up in Maine and when I first moved to the city I was TERRIFIED- always convinced someone was about to mug/kill me- and had to remind myself (sometimes outloud) that these city slicker bad guys should be afraid of me, because I grew up in the woods. To this day, I’d rather be all alone in the middle of the forest in the middle of the night rather than in the wrong neighborhood at dusk.
    But, not only are you acclimatizing in a stunning fashion, you also have all your city skills ready for when you go back! And I agree- it’s just too much work for axe murders to get out to the cabin. The bears are sleeping. And even if those were cat prints- big snow=slow moving deer=easy prey so don’t worry about it!

  84. So, have you ever thought about writing a horror novel? Maybe a funny, knitting-related horror novel? Cuz I really think you would be superb at it!
    Stay warm and keep checking in! We like to know you’re ok out there!

  85. Hi Stephanie – What a lovely surprise! Another report from your retreat.
    Mind you I reckon the deer might have been saying:
    “Are you sure she’s a vegetarian?”
    “Sure! Green stuff, no guns.”
    “Oh, that’s OK then.”
    Enjoy the rest of your (hopefully quiet) night.

  86. -10 (plus wind chill, but I’m trying not to focus on that, except for the calculation of frostbite risk)
    As someone raised by a mother who “doesn’t believe in” windchill, I feel that’s the most sensible option.
    Your photos are absolutely gorgeous. . .they’re really making me miss Canadian winters. (In a good way!)

  87. It’s funny to think you’re actually reading all of the comments.
    I could use some of that quiet you’ve got up there.

  88. Dude, I’d be afraid of the deer too. You may have opposable thumbs, but they have 4 hooves and a survival instinct. See if a loud “Whooooooooop”will prevent them from storming the door. If It doesn’t scare them off, they might stop and discuss among themselves if some salad greens are worth accosting the potentially unbalanced human lady.

  89. I have a metal roof too, when the ice and snow come down, it shakes the house.
    And the poof was probably snow falling off the trees. I have 100 year old pines in my back yard. When the snow lets loose on them, it rattles windows in the house across the street.
    Have fun… write good stuff… check in often so we know the deer haven’t gotten you.

  90. You only need to get nervous if you hear the sound of drums …
    Because dude, when the deer start playing drums you know they’re just about likkered up enough to do anything, opposable thumbs be damned.

  91. It sounds perfectly wonderful. Isn’t it magical how the snowfall makes everything so quiet? I think it’s an amazing thing.
    Just think of all the noises in the city that we filter out every day. Compared to them, it was probably a fairly quiet day, overall, where you are. But the unfamiliar sounds don’t get filtered the way all the familiar ones do, so it probably seemed like a cacophany around you.
    Just about the time you get used to all this, it will be time to go home! 🙂

  92. You know, I read a story when I was twelve by Caroline B. Cooney, “Where the Deer Are,” I think. It was very creepy, at least then. I hadn’t thought of it in years, but now I’m going to be remembering all night.

  93. I totally agree about the wind & cold. I always say I would rather go out on a day that is 0°F with not wind than on a day that is 20°F with a 10°F wind chill. Presidents’ Day (Feb 18) is a holiday from work for federal employees & most school children. So my SO, 2 daughters & 3 grands (SO & 1 daughter are feds & other daughter is a SAHM) & I decided to go to the Shedd Aquarium to see the dolphins among other things (the Komodo Dragon was a strong attraction also). The Oceanarium (where the dolphins live- is amazingly beautiful. It was designed (although you cannot really see it in that photo) so that, when you are sitting in the bleachers watching the dolphin show, you look straight across the dolphin pool to that wall of windows which looks out on Lake Michigan & it looks as if the pool & lake are one continuous body of very, very blue water – just fantastically beautiful, calm & restful – a great place to chill out. Well, it was so nice inside the Aquarium but outside the temp was about -9°C with a wind chill of about -15°C &, by the time we left, it was -11°C with a windchill of -16°C. And I’m fairly sure the wind was much worse (so the wind chill was much lower) right on the lake – it almost always is. I was wearing a heavy, Goretex down coat – so warm that I never wear it if the temp is above the teens (F – that would be about -7°C). The wind just blew right through that coat – amazing – I have worn that coat when it was -10°F (about -25°C) & been toasty warm & comfy. But that wind just went right through that coat – first time I have ever felt even the slightest chill while wearing it. And I had to stand out in it for about 5 minutes waiting for SO to pick me up (he & one DD went to the garage to get the cars & I helped the other DD with the grands). Brrrrr, I’m tired of winter!

  94. Awesome little vacation. You’re a one woman Ropes Class or Outward Bound Experience. Great time to do some meditation. Hang in there.

  95. I would so love to be in that cold. I might even wear a hat. And gloves. And I would make snow angels (over deer tracks to be on the safe side).
    Glorious winter.
    How is the writing coming along?

  96. SO. what you are saying is that if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, it does *indeed* still make a sound! now we have proof! LOL 😀

  97. Glad to see you are starting to enjoy the woods a little more now. The crazy big noise was probably ice cracking. It’s hard to believe it can be so loud until you hear it.
    The pictures are great and the deer are definately plotting to get your greenfood. But they most likely won’t hurt you. Just don’t feed them or they will never go away, or they may follow you home, just like a stray cat!
    I second the motion that a novel or non-fiction “The Travels of a Harlot” book would be good. You have a wonderful gift for sucking us all into the experience and letting us live vicariously through you. I meant that in the best possible way, of course.
    Your travel experiences have been some of the best of your writing, in my opinion. You let us see things that may be familiar to us (like the giant bean in the park in Chicago, or the altitude here in Colorado) in a whole new light and then we think more about the world around us, whether it is our local area or the world. I still want to experience buying stinky fleece in the Middle East. I have some very bold squirrels living in my yard now, and I’ll need some guard fleece this spring!
    Happy Camping!

  98. Not to panic you….but deer will eat meat! Maybe they were looking at you thinking “hey a complete meal—salad and a protein!”

  99. It was 35 degrees when I got home tonight. I am cold. I don’t like cold. I would rather go to an oasis on a desert island and watch the camels. Keep warm.

  100. under the blanket of snows
    lies the riot of spring time
    i live way south now
    but as you write i can hear
    see the sights and sounds
    of winter in the north

  101. I loved Land Before Time! Don’t worry, the boldest a deer ever got was nudging my dad’s arm to beg for food, and that was at a seriously heavy tourist location.

  102. The more you become nurvous as alone, the more the noise becomes louder. As your ears are now kind of apart from daily casual usual noise, your ears are a bit vulnerable…just a wonder.
    And I believe strongly that you could be a decent faburous nature essayist too. That means you can easily get “general” readers crushing around you…I assume. It has been always my pleasure to read your writing. I am seriously considering about printing out all of your blog posts so that I can read them anywhere with me. Thank you for your writing.

  103. Just letting my vote be counted…I agree with the group. You have a wonderful prose and it is a pleasure to see the far North through your eyes and to hear it as clearly as we can through your descriptions. Stand clear of the falling ice and tree limbs and write on…

  104. I just want to say Bless your little heart for writing this blog and keeping us all so richly entertained. Hope the other writing is going as well as the part you share with us!

  105. Thanks for this weekend posting. I didn’t understand why you did not want to bring music, but after reading today’s blog and comments, I guess there is a natural music out there, you just have to be dressed warm to hear most it.
    I have friends that love to hike in the woods in winter. now I understand a small bit why.
    A fiction book from you would be very welcomed.
    Please be very cautious on your walks!!

  106. The Spring Festival holiday just ended and I’m glad for it because all the fireworks made me jumpy. I feel your pain on loud noises. The scare the bejebus out of me.

  107. Wow. Canada really IS a foreign country 🙂 What a magical place the snowy woods must be. I live alone, but with 2 cats for company. Alone in the cold woods… oh my. Wouldn’t I be thinking fairy tales! Please do watch where those deer walk. Take care!

  108. I hadn’t kept up with the blog, and have loved reading the last few entries, plus all the comments. Very exciting –you are so brave! I went off to be by myself once — to a tiny village in Ticino (the Alps) for a week, but in the summertime. I decided that if I was to experience the Alps, summer or not, I must hike up some forlorn mountain, after a steep trip up a chair lift. I hiked until I fell and twisted my ankle on some rock, and there was no one around for miles. That was the end of the hikes — it crossed my mind that my family would never know what happened to me, and there wasn’t even any windchill to deal with! Anyway, I hope that you are getting lots done. I set a personal record for reading when I did it, which is nowhere near as hard as writing, I understand, but was still satisfying. I’m very happy about your upcoming essays, which are a personal favorite.

  109. Totally off topic, but I’m very excited to have booked a ticket for your visit to iknit in London in September.
    Although I only live 20 miles away from London, it takes a big deal to get me there. I’m looking fwd to it!

  110. I vote tree falling. My husband loves to go bike riding on one of the local bike trails in the warmer weather and I like to go with him and sit and knit or spin with no distractions.(Well other than answering questions about what I’m doing and how I do it to the occasional passerby LOL!) I mean, there are no phone calls and you don’t have to feel bad for not cleaning, working on your lawn, etc. etc. So I was sitting on a bench spinning, just me and my drop spindle (a Bosworth, I love their spindles. I have 6 of them.) When suddenly there was a tremendous crash. I mean enormous! It felt like the bench and I flew 3 feet straight up into the air. I looked toward the direction of the noise and a tree had fallen and blocked the bike path. It was just far enough away that none of the branches hit me. Had I been about 15 feet farther down the path, I would have been hit. Scared the crap right out of me! The noise attracted enough people (and one guy with a saw in his car. Who would think of that!) that we were able to move some of the tree off the path so people could get by. The noise when the tree fell was terrifying. It was sort like a gun going off right next to you and a bomb going off at the same time. The crack was awful. It was almost like a tree death scream and rattle. The tree was on a steep slope and we had alot of rain so one tree fell and hit this one and broke it. After that, I went and sat in the car and knit LOL! Thanks for telling us about your adventures. You’re going to finally get used to it on the 5th day and then you won’t want to leave!

  111. What wonderous sights and sounds to be followed by the awesome silence of fresh falling snow. I envy your getaway. Okay, only as long as the firewood is close by and when banked the embers lasts until morning!

  112. You need some snowshoes, girl, then you’d be able to go out and investigate.
    Have you thought about looking out for the Northern Lights?

  113. Isnt it amazing how the world can be so crazy loud and then snow comes and its like the whole world, every person, animal and plant stops to watch and listen, its like magic! I love it.
    I think it sounds amazing where you are, enjoy every minute 🙂

  114. Excuse me – Did Hemingway actually ever write in the snow? I think “Hemingway,” I think mega-toed cats, salty air and crashing waves, not crashing icicles! I get the idea, though. Actually, I’m thinking more “Thoreau.”
    Gosh, I’m enjoying these little forays into the icy North Country. I promise I’ll never (well, rarely) complain about 16 degrees F again!

  115. one time at girl-scouts we were camping and squirrels started bombarding our tents with acorns and it was REALLY loud.

  116. you should toss a small bag of greens over near were the loud noise came from so that the deer make a trail so you can see what made the noise

  117. Just have to say one thing
    I wish I were there!!! I live in Sunny Florida and it’s 52 degree Fahrenheit(11-degree Celsius) and my family thinks it’s cold. Thanks for posting all the pictures and writing about your adventures. they are making my days.

  118. I know you’re not going to be at your getaway for very much longer, but I thought you would like to know that different animals eyes will glow different colours in the dark. Umm, wolves would be yellow…btw. Ahem….

  119. I’m behind on my reading because of pesky work, so I’m squeezing in two comments here.
    1. Whoever suggested the Yarn Harlot World Tour t-shirt idea was really onto something. You could totally sell those; I would totally buy one, and I would drive many hours to Portland to have you autograph it. Nice way to showcase some Harlot art, too.
    2. I love, love, love being alone. I try to go on a solo backpack at least once a year. I used to go truly by myself, but now I have my little dog pal to keep me company. I do suffer irrational fears of being eaten by wild animals, but I try to recognize and sort of partition off the part of my brain that wants to go there. Mostly I realize that I am safer by far on the hike than I was in the car on the way to the hike and that those types of fears have to do with my inner so-called reality rather than with the reality of my surroundings.

  120. I agree with everyone, your posts are very entertaining, drawing each of us in, to see what you see & hear.
    Recently I had one of those “What the heck is that noise?” experiences.
    I was sitting at my computer reading your blog when this very loud noise occured. Being absorbed in your writing, it registered as the wind blowing. However it got longer & louder, the windows started rattling, the house started shaking and goosebumps followed that tingle of fear. If finally dawned on me it was an Earthquake.
    The sound of a freight train running through the house should have been my first clue. But it’s been a few years since the last Earthquake I’ve been in.
    I’m curious, like Juliana, how do you knit so fast? Can you share your secret or provide tips for us?

  121. We have moved (July) from GA to the White Mountains of NH. Our house looks incredibly like the one in which you are staying….or at least what I can see of it. Do you think you will want to use this place again? Hope you are sleeping well because that makes a big difference in how your days go. Love the socks…beautiful colors.

  122. Your recent posts are making me homesick for Northern Minnesota…especially the parts about how long you can be outside before you have to worry about dying. I tell my friends that there were exposure warnings on the radio in the morning and they give me a look like “who the hell are you kidding.”
    I love how the woods can be so quiet that you think you’ve gone deaf, and then so earshatteringly loud without any warning. And the sound of snow falling in the forest…I miss that sound.
    Hope you’re getting lots of writing done!

  123. I made a pair of socks for a friend of mine. I used left over yarn from a previous toe for the ribbing, the heel and the toe. I had one finished, and I took it and the half completed second sock with me when I went to visit her, thinking they’d be done by the time I left. When I had approximately 3″ of sock left, it occured to me to compare the two. The second sock was considerably longer than the first – I had wondered why the needles felt a little different (usually I write down what size I’m using, just in case, but not this time…) so I ended up pulling the second sock apart and redoing it.
    After a few weeks I mailed them to her. She was happy and excited and wore them and showed them off and then… she washed them.
    Yeah, I’d forgotten to tell her that they weren’t machine washable. So they’ve been passed on to her niece, who has much smaller feet. Much smaller.
    So, you know, you’re scarcely alone in the ‘why didn’t I check this sooner???’ department 🙂

  124. Oh I know about those roof crashes! The first year I lived in this house I nearly had a heart attack when I heard a sheet of ice slide off the third-story roof and bounce off the first story roof before smashing to the ground. Now I’m used to it, so it doesn’t freak me out. As much.
    A few years ago my sister was living in rural Maine. She opened up her front door one afternoon to go get the mail and found herself face to face with a moose. She claims that they stared at each other in shock for a few seconds before she slowly backed up and shut the door, turning the deadbolt rapidly. Mr. Moose (she was able to determine he was a he) stuck around for a bit before ambling back into the woods. She made her husband fetch the mail anyway.

  125. Huh, Grafton needles. I assumed those were Knit Picks Harmony needles when I saw them in the photo. I wonder who came up with the idea first. Either way, they are gorgeous.

  126. it looks stunningly beautiful to a southerner who has yet to see more than a dusting of snow this year and spent the morning outside in a tank top and shorts, cleaning the muck out of the iris beds.
    do you need a cook? i’m very quiet, can cook wonderful things, especially homemade chocolate pudding and other assorted desserts and am quite useful at winding yarn. all that snow! i just can’t imagine. i would be out playing in it every minute!
    good luck with the book.

  127. Just in case no one got back to you–
    STR= Socks That Rock, its a brand name of hand dyed yarn that is just to die for. You can find some at Blue Moon Fiber Arts ( ) but it is really hard to get before she runs out. and it isn’t cheap either ($21/380yd hank)….but I’ve heard it is the BEST!
    Its on my “When I When the Lottery” list.

  128. Haven’t read all the comments, but I’m sure someone else must have said this already, but I’ll say it anyway: “I can’t tell you what went through my head before I figure it out, but it involved deer on the roof.” Uh, Stephanie? Santa only makes one trip in winter, and he’s already done!
    Seriously. Isn’t it weird that we can deal with the noise of city life (sirens, car horns, a million people talking, TVs and radios, etc.) and a little bit of tree branches creaking freaks us out?

  129. Oh Lord my stomach hurts. Thoughts of Santa on a test run never crossed your mind?
    Nature sure does have a way of making herself heard during temperature changes. You ought to hear our trailer crack when it hits 40 below.

  130. Dude, you can read TRACK! And something tells me it’s self taught. I’m impressed. Maybe I can talk you into coming with me sometime, critter-spottin’.
    Wish I had a better view of those tracks going off to the right? Lynx? Maybe snowshow hare on the other side? I had a feeling about lynx visiting you in the previous commments.
    Ice booming? Exploding tree? Isn’t January or February called “Moon of Bursting Trees” or something similar amongst the Sioux?

  131. Whoops, I was commenting on two days posts at once — I meant the animal tracks in yestereday’s photos.

  132. I have been away for a few days and am just now catching up on “The Alone Project.” I have to give you major accolades. I love the woods during the day but I’m scared witless of them after dark. And being there for 6 days? In cold so brutal you can only go out for 20 minutes at a time? Kudos to you my friend. I guess I shouldn’t mention that it’s 65 Fahrenheit/18 Celsius today in Georgia… Hope you’re holding out ok!

  133. Wow—I’d pretty well come to terms with not having a single real day of snow this winter and started looking forward to spring….and then I read this and I find myself longing for snow all over again.
    I’m so happy you are there to enjoy it and share.

  134. Hope the writing is going well, despite nature trying its best to scare the crap out of you. And should the knitting humor book market ever dry up, I think you could make a killing writing a Henry David Thoreau style journal about being a knitter all alone in the woods.

  135. It certainly all looks really beautiful, but please be careful when you go for your hikes! Sorry to change the subject to STR yarn and guage etc; but what size needles do you use for medium weight and what guage do you get? Thanks

  136. Reading a day late, ’cause I fell and racked a leg before coming back from Madrona, and can’t sit much at the computer… But this post had me both sympathizing and giggling because of parallels. The winters when we have an ice storm here in Portland, it’s always been long enough since the last that I forget about the icicles on my balcony roof. Those crashes get me every damned time! Especially after all the silence. The silence becuase, despite me being in the city, we Portlanders aren’t blithely driving when there’s several inches of ice covering everything, because we know we *don’t* know how the hell to drive in ice. (Well. Except for the stupid/crazy people.) It gets blissfully quiet while the ice rules, so those icicles dropping sound appalling. Trees, now… Luckily, not many of those go over entirely. They just drop lots of branches. Transformers blowing from power overloads though, oh yeah. Those sound like bombs!
    And I looked at my own skein of STR Rare Gems (more teals, purples and dark blues in mine), and started a sock during the times I can sit up. Only mine’s in heavyweight. I knit loose, so had to go up from my usual 0’s to 1.50mm; the fabric didn’t feel quite firm enough on 2’s. But geesh, they feel like they’re flying along compared to my usual sock speed! No, I haven’t timed myself for a minute. I’d like to cherish the illusion I’ve really speeded up. [g]

  137. Now see…about that third unidentifiable noise is when I’d crank up the i-pod, pants my dance off, and pretend that that noise in my head was echoing all throughout the world.
    You appreciate the weirdness of nature much better than I do.

  138. Isn’t it amazing how loud ice crashing on the ground can be? We had snow this winter in the desert and one of the canyons had a frozen icefall ( would have been water if it were springtime). And we happened to be there when the ice came booming to the ground! Sounded like a bomb. Amazing. Glad you are getting some writing done. I think I might be inclined to knit and nap a lot.

Comments are closed.