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Things I’ve come to understand

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A couple of months ago I promised you a reboot of the blog, focusing on new topics and a more enlightened view of some old topics. Events over the summer delayed said reboot, so let me start by doing a quick review of what’s been going on.

Dante was an optimist

First, a little about this year. We started 2021 off with a bang here in Oregon, not even considering the COVID pandemic. 

In March we had a “50-year” ice storm that blanketed much of the western part of the state. In our area, it was deemed to be a “100-year storm”. We lost numerous trees (our property is mostly large timber), and many of the rest sustained severe damage. We’re still cleaning up from that storm, and I expect to be doing so for at least a couple of years. 

The 2 inches of accumulated ice dropped power and telephone lines everywhere. We were without power for 8 days; at day 4, cell sites ran out of backup power and our cell phones went silent. The landlines had gone down before the power, and we were without DSL (internet) for over two weeks. (That, my friends, is purgatory!)

Here’s the first thing I’ve come to understand, courtesy of that ice storm: the more you have, the more time you spend taking care of it. And, the more you have the more likely it is that something will break or wear out, forcing you to take care of it. It’s nice to live on acreage, and I know a lot of people aspire to do so, but it’s a LOT of work when things are going well — and when they aren’t, it can turn into a nightmare. 

Be careful what you wish for.

It gets worse

Mother Nature, however, was just getting warmed up (literally). This spring, with the ice storm still fresh in our minds, temperatures in Oregon soared to all-time record highs. Not just for the season, or for the month, but for the entire year in the history of record-keeping.

Before I get to the details, a little perspective is in order: the western half of our state is a temperate zone. Summer temps of 85 or 90 degrees are considered hot in these parts. Until this year, the high temperatures here on the west side of the state rarely got over 100 degrees. 102 or 103 degrees was very unusual, and very hot. 

Because of this relatively cool climate, Oregon has one of the lowest percentages of air-conditioned houses in the contiguous U.S. In fact, I’ve never lived in an air-conditioned house! This would prove to be a difficulty.

You can imagine our surprise when, the last week of June, the thermometers went well over 110 degrees,  all over the state. At our little farm, we experienced multiple consecutive days of over 110, culminating with a blistering 116 degrees — not just a record for the state, but also the hottest weather I’ve ever personally experienced. 

I must admit it was miserable. Well and truly miserable. The last day of the heatwave, the day it hit 116, I honestly couldn’t cool off enough to shake the feeling that I was going to die from the heat. It was that oppressive.

That day, airflow from the mighty Pacific Ocean finally overcame the high pressure that had brought us such extreme heat. Temperatures dropped like a rock — and that is not an exaggeration: in one hour, the temperature dropped 40 degrees. Having the entire atmosphere cool so quickly was an amazing experience, and one which I hope to never (need to) feel again. If I knew how to dance, I would have.

While the record setting heat was done, the rest of the summer still produced significantly-above-average temperatures. Temps were high enough that I didn’t get a lot of work done, and I frankly didn’t feel like trying. In the last month we’ve finally cooled off to what we used to call “normal”, and my productivity is finally returning.

Just in time for the rainy season to start!

Learning from experience

As you are no doubt aware, over the last few years my focus on self defense has evolved significantly. It started when I began to see personal protection as simply one part of preparedness (and, as I’ve said more than once, not even the most important part.) Most of what I wrote in 2018 and 2019 was about preparedness, with less focus on the self defense part of it — and even less on the shooting parts of self defense.

More recently, I’ve realized that preparedness itself is just one part of personal resiliency (the ability to adapt in the face of adversity and external stress). The events of this last year showed me that far too few people are truly resilient, and that lack of resiliency manifested itself in some ugly (and potentially dangerous) ways. 

While I’m generally happy with how we weathered the pandemic here on the farm, and how we dealt with the crazy (and dangerous) weather, these events have caused me to see that my own personal resiliency could use some work. I’ve gotten a little more introspective on what that  means to me, and what parts of my life should be adjusted.

This leads me to the second thing I’ve come to understand: the whole notion of “rugged individualism”, of facing adversity on your own, is complete nonsense. Almost everything great that mankind has ever achieved, including its own survival, has generally been done by working with others. 

The plains pioneers, the western ranchers? We’re often told of their facing adversity with nothing but their wits and a good horse. The reality is that those whose homesteads were too far from others generally failed; we see the remnants of their failures all over the more sparsely populated parts of this state. Those who were closer to neighbors, or closer to town, tended to succeed more often. That’s because they had others to call on when their own knowledge or strength weren’t enough to see them through.

We’ll start to look at that knowledge part in the next post. Stay tuned.

-=[ Grant ]=-

P.S.: In my last post I made mention of stirring some controversy. The summer’s events delayed that posting, but it’s coming.

  • Posted by Grant Cunningham
  • On October 4, 2021