The Joy of Winter

 Reijo playing in freshly fallen snow.

Reijo playing in freshly fallen snow.

In August, our family of four moved to Cobb Hill from the Hudson Valley of New York. While we had some other winter lovers in our old community, people mostly complained about the snow and the cold and eagerly awaited spring. Moving north to Vermont has been a great opportunity for us to further embrace the season along with our four and six year old kids.

 Lila running down one of Cobb Hill's many hills.

Lila running down one of Cobb Hill's many hills.

One of the biggest joys of living at Cobb Hill so far has been all the winter opportunities right on site- miles of groomed cross country ski trails, extensive woodlands for snowshoeing, as the name suggests, plenty of hills for sledding, and ever growing mounds of snow to climb, slide down and burrow through. After the first snowfall in early December, I remember looking groggily out our window at our neighbor and his 9 year old daughter sledding before 8 am. Later, two ten years olds passed by on cross country skis. Over the course of the day, various community members of all ages jumped on sleds, slipped into snowshoes, and strapped on their cross country skis heading to the still ungroomed trails in celebration of the arrival of winter. Cobb Hill and the broader community clearly felt the same way about winter as we do.

A recent NY Times article about a nearby Vermont town claimed, “The town’s collective philosophy is that youth sports exist to develop a lasting love for physical activity and the outdoors, life skills and friendships that last forever.” Cobb Hill’s collective enthusiasm for the outdoors and enjoyment of winter has embodied this philosophy and and it’s been contagious.

 Lilja, age six, gaining confidence during her first day alpine skiing

Lilja, age six, gaining confidence during her first day alpine skiing

For example, my six year old thought downhill skiing “looked too scary.” Several other kids kindly clarified that she would be on gentle slopes to learn and enthusiastically encouraged her. After her second day skiing she proclaimed, “Because I am such a good skier, I got to go all the way to the top of the mountain.” As a family, it brings us joy to be outside together but it also feels right from a parenting perspective. Our kids are learning life skills that build confidence and community and will bring health and fun for years to come.

 Reijo, age four, looking out at Mt. Ascutney from the top of the Sheep Pasture- a short snow shoe from our doorstep.

Reijo, age four, looking out at Mt. Ascutney from the top of the Sheep Pasture- a short snow shoe from our doorstep.

Starting tomorrow, the weather is supposed to turn unseasonably warm. Trying to enjoy the last of the snow, my four year old and I headed out the door in snowshoes. After about fifteen minutes, we ended up atop the sheep pasture with gorgeous views of Mt. Ascutney and the mountains across the Connecticut River. The opportunity to hop out our door into winter has been deeply gratifying and has allowed us to explore the joy of winter with two small children.

An observation on our electricity use

Typical Vermont house electric bill is $96/ month.  The monthly bill for the trailer (fairly low use situation) is 75/month.

Our electric bills come out to be about 55/household, due to our commercials rate and investments in energy efficiency.  With cow power, our bill is about 66/household/month.

That means that with 100% renewable energy (and the double climate win of cow power where we also reduce methane emissions) our electric bills are still just 2/3 of the average home in Vermont.