Friday, 26 April 2013

Celebrating Earth Day

At some point in my life, I’m sure the romantic ideal of living off the grid appealed to me. To live in a cabin in the woods, growing and foraging for food, hunkering down in the winter around the blazing wood stove and tanning hides to make my own clothes. And then age, knowledge and reality set in. Living off the grid means you pretty much spend every waking minute maintaining gardens, foraging for food, checking the traps, getting firewood and hauling water, just to survive. Yeah, I watch Yukon Men. 

I spent a good bit of time camping in tents, both with my family as a child and with Girl Guides as a leader. I picked up a few good survival skills and numerous life skills along the way and enjoyed many a wilderness experience for a weekend or even a week at a time. When B and I first met we enjoyed camping in a tent, up until a couple of years ago when I found it increasingly difficult to haul myself out of the tent in the wee hours to make my way to the bathroom. Now my idea of roughing it is having a hotel room without a Jacuzzi tub.
Actually, it’s not that bad. There are always the weekends at the cottage to give me a little taste of living off the grid. It’s really more of a rustic cabin built by B and his brothers several years ago. No electricity, no running water and an outhouse. It’s a good big cabin, with a livingroom/kitchen, two bedrooms and a bathroom (room with a bathtub and a solar shower bag hanging from the ceiling) and a huge loft as an extra sleeping area.

We were there this past weekend to celebrate Earth Day. Not really. We were there for our annual First Fishing of the Season Weekend. We go mid April pretty well every year. B and I and whoever else in the extended family wants to do a little fishing and have a lot of fun. We’ve had upwards of 8 or 9 people on different occasions but this year there were just 5 of us, and really only B and I til late Saturday afternoon.

We had a foggy drive to the cabin and arrived at dusk. It was a very spooky atmosphere with the fog on the river. We unloaded the car, got the wood stove going, plugged the lights into the battery and proceeded to sanitize the kitchen. Yeah, another joy of rustic living, mouse poop, it’s everywhere. We grab a bucket of water from the brook nearby for cleaning and bring it to a boil on the propane stove. Once the place is warmed up and sanitized we have just enough time to read our books (he the traditional type, me a Kobo reader) and then off too bed. 
Saturday is another drizzly day, not suitable for fair-weather fisherfolk.  We head into town for dinner supplies and a nice hot coffee at the local Irving station. On our way back we make a stop for drinking water at a nearby spring. Nothing better than fresh spring water for drinking. The afternoon is spent reading, watching the rain and listening to the squirrel, who seems to have moved into the upstairs loft, complaining about his new downstairs neighbours.

The rest of the gang arrived late Saturday afternoon. Typically we fish during the day and in the evenings we have a great huge bonfire, toast some marshmallows, make s'mores, maybe have a few games of cribbage and imbibe a few too many adult beverages. With the poor weather during this particular weekend, the evenings consisted mostly of the latter.The battery didn't last too long into the second evening so candles shed light on the indoor party.

Sunday was a better day and we all managed to make a few casts into the cold river waters. There were a few May flies on the water but we weren't seeing too much evidence of the fish taking them. In the end, I was the only one that hooked one poor trout. Two or three of the same size might have made a good snack but figuring that wasn't going to happen, I released him to let him fatten up for another day. 

I do enjoy these weekends at the cottage and would likely spend more time there but for one thing, the outhouse. Not the most delightful but certainly one of the more necessary places to have at a camp. I always feel like I want to slip into the rubber boots and hazmat suit, a respirator wouldn't go astray either. In the Spring it's a cold damp trudge up the hill and the summers bring battles with the spiders and flies for squatting rights.

So if I were ever to live off the grid, the first thing I would invest in?  A composting toilet. I could lug spring water everyday and cook over a wood fire for the rest of my life but an indoor toilet is the creature comfort I have come to believe I cannot live without.

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