I turned the spigot on in the forest shower, felt the cold water pour over me, and realized it had been more than two months since either Mark or I had showered indoors. Two months since a hot shower. I peeked through the shower curtains and looked about. Our clothes line had become a hamper—destined for dirty farm clothes stained with a scent only a livestock farm can impart. The burdock patch was growing virulently once more; Mark would need to mow soon. I would need to fill the bucket with water from the shower in order to wash out the french press for morning. I turned off the spigot and saw our shock-white cat zip through the brush. Officially a feline obsessed with being out of doors, just like his parents. There it all was: our campsite. Not bad, I thought.
The shower has always been a place of great peace for me; a place where a lot of my best ideas come to the surface. My tendency has been to linger too long under the running water, entertaining novel melodies in my brain, fragmented snippets of imagined prose, and enterprising ideas for the future. In short: wasting water. That place, the slow, indoor shower, is no more. Now, my showers are gone in sixty seconds or less, filled with hurried breaths brought on from the shock of cold water and evening air. I spend less time in there—thinking, bathing—than ever before. Still, the shower that stands just outside of Pink Cameron has become the de facto epicenter of our living grounds. It is our only source of running water: our well, of sorts. We draw water from the outdoor shower throughout the day; to wash dishes, to do laundry, to cook rice, to quench the thirst of the kids we are raising about a stone's throw away from where we live. We tote a small, steel bucket—back and forth, back and forth—taking the water wherever it is needed. It can be rather inconvenient, but enlightening too. We now know exactly how much water we use on a daily basis, and it is a lot less than what we were using in the past. It's a comforting thought—more comforting, even, than a hot, twelve-minute shower. —M
Possessions—especially the wares for cooking and eating—wear a patina from being carted from our camper kitchen to our outdoor sink. In general, things are a little rougher. A bit dirtier. Things break more often. We are becoming less attached to things.
If a storm is coming, we cannot bunker down until all the clothes are off the line, all the shoes are hurled under the camper, all the dishes are brought inside, and our pots of herbs are protected. I have the thought, during times like those ones, that the vast majority of human experience did not exist so comfortably within four walls. Communities used to live, well, communally. Life was less about neighbors and more about flourishing in conjunction with others who worked towards similar goals: rearing families together, growing food and raising shelter. Sharing the toils and the bounty. With trepidation society calls this hippy commune living. In my humble little opinion, this is a disservice to millions of people who came and prospered before us; to the communities around the world who still maintain this way of life. —S
Recently Mark and I have been researching yurts, or wooden and canvas cylindrical huts that originated in Mongolia. Apart from just being interested in living in our own yurt, I found it fascinating to learn that yurts traditionally have no windows, but rather a door and a sunlight. Life was to be lived and worked outside, and a yurt only one of your many rooms in nature. Many of our family and friends tell us they could not possibly do what we are doing this summer — what with the no bathroom, and no running water indoors, and no wifi, and only 17 feet to sleep, cook, dine, and relax in. Ah, yes, but what of all the treasures that can and do exist here. Countless, unexpected treasures. I have come to know the night, with her denizens of coyotes, and foxes, and stars as multitudinous as the blood vessels in my body. I have come to know the night and I love her. —S
And I have come to know the land and love her—even the dirt and grass clippings that we track onto our pale pink, painted floor each & every time we walk indoors. She is beautiful, and rough around the edges too. “Unrelenting” would be a good word. We are always close by, subject to her mood swings. From dusty heat waves to days-long deluges of rain, we must endure. Sometimes it is terrible. But most of the time, it feels apparent just how blessed we are to live this way. A way that is not necessarily comfortable or idyllic, but one that feels right for us. The thought of separating from the land, back into a house with indoor plumbing and creature comforts and everything you need under one roof, feels alien. It is not to say we want to live in a camper permanently, but that we hope to forever blend our lives with that of the land, just as we have this summer. —M