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Karen and the two Patterdale terriers. (Submitted photo)

The Patterdale Hall Diaries | History repeating

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Feb. 26, 2024

Well, I can’t put both radiators on the same circuit out at the Hall or I’ll blow one of the old 30-amp screw-in fuses. Oops. Local hardware store to the rescue, fuses replaced and everything functional again.

Fortunately, nothing froze, although it was only just above freezing in the kitchen, so I just caught it. It now seems that we are through the worst of the cold. Looking ahead 10 days it looks like it will just dip below freezing a couple of times and mostly it will be raining — the weather of my people. This is good news, the ground will be softer and more diggable, and I should be able to get manure down on at least two potential vegetable beds.

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It is Wright State’s spring break this week, so time to do enjoyable things like file taxes. Eesh. March is coming, though, and that is my birthday month. I usually treat myself to one special present, and last year I bought a lovely pair of tortoiseshell Bolle sunglasses. This year I will be getting myself another knife; I have accepted that I have a knife habit. It is a fixed-blade all-rounder of a knife made by Helle of Norway, and it’s called “Sigmund,” which is cute. It reminds me very much of a knife that my father was given many years ago, and there is a story attached to that knife.

During the second world war my grandmother was shopping in Exeter, Devon, and she caught the train back to Great Torrington, where she lived. As she closed the train door, she caught the finger of someone trying to get on and severed the end of the finger. The poor guy got on the train and Granny bandaged the finger.

When they got to Torrington, they went straight to my grandfather, who was the town pharmacist. The finger was fixed as best they could. It transpired that Sver was a Norwegian soldier whose ship had been sunk in the channel, and he was slowly beginning to make his way north. Norway had fallen to the Nazis in 1940, however, and so Sver made it as far north as my grandmother’s house, where he stayed and worked on the farm for the remainder of the war.

My dad was born, and Sver watched him grow up. When he eventually returned to Norway, he sent my dad a beautiful sheath knife, which my dad then allowed me to use while I was a Boy Scout, and that’s the story. Helle makes really lovely, functional knives, and I’m looking forward to using “Sigmund.”

Feb. 27, 2024

I won’t post about my feelings regarding the tax increases in Yellow Springs here. Other than this: When I retire, we will leave Yellow Springs, because its taxation exceeds what I will be able to afford.

This makes me very sad, but also very happy that I have the Patterdale Hall safety net. Selling the Yellow Springs home will hopefully allow my kids to live comfortably for a while, wherever they may be. We have loved living here, and I see 10 more years, but then the great experiment is done.

I promised Karen when we moved here that we would stay for the duration of our children’s education. I’m going to push it to the end of their bachelor’s degree education, but then I just need to stop, get out, change — something. This town has altered in the last 17 years. Much is similar but much is not.

Moving a short distance out of town will allow us to still enjoy Yellow Springs without being drained by Yellow Springs.

Feb. 28, 2024

Big, weird storm last night. Tornadic wind snapped a power pole 500 feet from our house, but we only got a bit of wind and rain. It must have just touched down very briefly, then snapped back up again.

Power is out to the whole village, so there is big damage somewhere outside town. Hopefully they can get the power back on, because it’s still February and it’s due to drop to 24°F tonight. Brr. Time to retreat to the Hall and get a nice fire going, maybe read one of those book things.

Eek, it’s maybe five snapped power poles. One on Limestone and possibly four on Dayton Street. The Yellow Springs house won’t have power for days. It’s getting pretty cold.

Karen, the dogs and I decamped to the Hall, leaving Morris in charge of the Yellow Springs house. I’m not sure what time the power came back on, but Mo would have been fine under his pile of blankets. He popped out to see us all in the early evening, charged his phone, devoured Lee’s Wednesday Special fried chicken and then headed back to the frozen wilderness.

Archie had a very exciting night barking and growling at every noise/smell/shadow; he probably only slept for two hours, so Leap Day will be a lazy one for Mr. Archibald. The electrical crews did an amazing job, and we probably only went without power for 20 hours.

Feb. 29, 2024

We are home now, and all is well. I shall head back out to replace all the wood we burned as I managed to keep the fire going all night. I’ll bring in a pile of “all-nighter” logs and split two crates of smaller pieces and kindling — that should be fine for the Sunday session of Dungeons and Dragons.

*Originally from Manchester, England, Chris Wyatt is an associate professor of neuroscience, cell biology and physiology at Wright State University. He has lived in Yellow Springs for 17 years, is married and has two children and two insane Patterdale terriers.

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