Lake Almanor Area Chamber of Commerce
Living Well During Winter in the Lake Almanor Basin
by Kim James on March 6th, 2011


Surviving Winter in the Chester Lake Almanor Basin is not for the faint of heart. It isn’t for people who can’t handle challenges and who like to complain and mostly who are committed to their own comfort.

I have survived 17 winters here. But about 14 years back I made a decision that I didn’t want to just survive 6 months out of the year, of my life. I wanted to attempt to enjoy it. Many people leave here when things aren’t optimal for their comfort. For the rest of us we get creative.

There are a few sure things about winter where I live, a few things I have learned and incorporated to not only make it tolerable but comfortable.

I need to put into practice these spiritual principles, lock them in the forefront of my mind going into winter.

1st and most important Acceptance.

2nd is Gratitude, no complaining, there is nothing complaining hasn’t made worse and made it feel like it would last 10 times longer.

3rd is Patience. We get patience by practicing patience, my kids could recite this stuff to you.
With these in mind I must remember…………..
There will be power outages, and at the worst times. Like when Christmas Dinner was in the oven this year. There will be a lot of them , eight so far this year and the duration can be days. We have two generators but don’t use them unless we think we are losing our food stores. We never get behind on laundry, dishes or vacuuming because if we lose power then we will get behind.

It will be cold. The warmest days usually will be when it snows. A snowy day is a warm day.

It will be long. Snow storms started the week before Thanksgiving this year and we won’t see green ground until late April, maybe May. Very long, last year’s Winter was 7 months, maybe the same this year. It will make Summer that much more sweeter and important to enjoy.

It will be very quiet and slow. Chico is an hour and fifteen minutes away by car, Reno two hours and Susanville 45 minutes. We try not to travel in the snow if it can be helped. We are mostly home bound. Although we can be in summertime as fast as we can get to Chico if we need to. We have to make our own fun. If I am looking for action I will need to create it for myself. Hence all the art, reading, writing, movies, crab feeds, work I love, cards with the kids and lots of popcorn. We made a little movie theater in the studio and we have Netflix streaming, Showtime, HBO, Wii fit dance, and a DVR. We are also very aware that these are big fat luxuries.

Winter depression is real, for most people and especially here because of lack of vitamin D. It will set in, if it is not combated, there has to be a plan. Vitamins D, fish oil, strong nutrient rich diet, a big routine, awake at dawn, sun bathing for 15 in the am, exercise, house plants, pets, friends, fresh flowers, no TV news and happy socializing. Skis are not a luxury but a necessity, as well as snow shoes, snow mobiles to break trail in deep snow for myself and our 3 dogs.

I will live at the mercy of the weather and power. I commit to roll with it and be prepared.

We built our home for just this purpose. Forget luxury and ambiance think little house on the prairie survival. Our wood stove heats the house, dries our clothes and if need be cooks dinner. We also have a propane stove, no igniter on the top, same with the water heater. We don’t need electricity to cook or shower. We have all wood heat with back up propane if need be. Ipads and Iphons on G3 networks are for work so when power is down, we are not. They are kept 100% charged daily. We have a fridge box outside. Our freezer is kept outside on the porch as well. We have food stores set to last weeks. Everything charged including my video light I shoot with. It’s on a 6 hour mini car battery pack. I cook and clean by it. It’s a 600 dollar light that has earned it’s way by lighting mine to care for my family. My most important item is my grandmother’s copper bottom, giant stainless percolator coffee pot, from the 1950′s. With these things not having power is not a big deal, it’s a minor inconvenience. Also I function from the top 3 spiritual practices and I do what I can without power. There is always a project to do that doesn’t require power. If I have to write, I get out a pen and paper. I am also mindful that all of the things we have that work on power are big fat luxuries.

My bed has the thickest down blankets available, 2 of them. My room is typically 55 degrees with the wood heat only, and our room being in the back of the house, we sometimes store the fruit in the bathtub , it’s as good as a root cellar. I have 3 pairs of Uggs I live in. They are beaten up pretty bad. I buy the ugliest, biggest (because it shrinks with every wash), 4 ply cashmere I can find on clearance, in the summer and I wear it all winter until I kill it. I sleep in cashmere, I ski in cashmere and I clean in cashmere. My garments are covered in balls, wood chips and food. They get washed every 2 weeks, they have holes and I can’t live here without these things, especially cashmere. If I am going to finish my days here I will need my own goats and make my own yarn.

My favorite winter things are my Uggs, fresh flowers, cashmere anything, ski’s, grandma’s coffee pot, Showtime, HBO, Netflix, Yoga and a mat, our gym, ipad, our FJ cruiser AKA the urban assault vehicle, Ian’s dinners and desserts and Dana’s amazing pies. Granted I gain 10 pounds every winter, but I have accepted it is the price of where I live and it is shed as the snow melts.

At the end of the day, we make our own fun, we prepare, we roll with it, we practice acceptance, gratitude and patience and we make sure to love each-other, take care of each-other and try to enjoy this season the two thirds of the planet don’t get to experience.

I have found, from my own experience, that living here is good for my well being. It may not always be great for my comfort, but what is comfortable isn’t usually good for my well being.

Posted in Why I live in Lake Almanor    Tagged with winter, living and loving, family


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