Category Archives: Woods

An animal walking in the woods

Me.

Ha! I wrote that line and almost stopped because I liked the title and the simplicity of that one word in answer. But really, this post is prompted by something Greenpa over at Little Blog in the Big Woods wrote. It is something I have meant to write about for a long, long time but never did: that we have let the conveniences of modern day life come between us and the direct experience of nature. It has softened us and dulled us. I suppose I have written about it in a round about way when I’ve discussed living without an air conditioner, fridge, or running water but I’ve not written about it in quite the same way that Greenpa
puts it here:

‘You set up your house so you HAVE to walk at least 100 yards to get to your car?! On PURPOSE??! And the worse the weather, the farther you have to walk??!!!?’

Yes I did.

Why?

Because I’m lazy.

Seriously. I’d rather not walk that far, particularly in lousy weather. If I could avoid it, I wouldn’t do it.

That, however, is something I see as an increasing problem in our world; our ever growing insulation from nature. In my lifetime, we’ve seen air-conditioning invented; then become an absolute necessity. There are loads of kids out there who cannot conceive of summer in the city without full air-conditioning.

Besides all the energy load of the machines, and the ozone destroying refrigerants; all the heat pumped out into the city so that meteorologists now see them as ‘heat islands’ on their maps; these kids do not know what it is to be HOT. And to have to deal with it.

Or cold. In winter, we go from our heated houses into our attached garages, get into our pre-warmed cars; drive to the underground parking ramps, scurry to the elevators (heated) and shiver into the offices, complaining about how miserably cold it is, without actually having been outside more than 30 seconds at a time.

As a biologist, I can assure you, we can tolerate a lot of heat; and adapt to a lot of cold, and human skin does not melt in the rain. But more and more, kids are genuinely unaware of that.

I don’t think that’s a good idea. And I doubt it’s good to be so comfortable, all the time, even for folks who DO know it. I really think humans are a part of nature. And I really think we need to stay in touch with the rest of it.

Anyone that knows me or who has read this blog knows what I think about climate change and peak oil. Not only are they very real but they have come to our front door and stepped into our homes. They are here right now.

I’ve chosen do what I think must be done on a mass scale right now (though I’m certain it won’t be) and that is DRASTIC change in how we live our lives. I have chosen to live directly and deliberately with nature as a part of nature. Ultimately I think more and more of us will be forced into this but I’d much rather make the changes by choice. In fact, I relish the intensity and beauty of it. The other night is was sitting in our unheated outhouse at 8 degrees F. Not only did I survive but as I did my business I enjoyed looking out the window at the star filled sky and it was perhaps the most fantastic shit I’ve ever taken. The very next morning I was out there doing the very same thing only this time I was watching and listening as a variety of birds went about their morning business in the branches just a few feet away. Yes my ass was frozen but thanks to the beauty surrounding me this too was a great start to another day.

The fact is that these are the conditions that many all over this planet still live in every day. As Greenpa says above, humans are much, much more durable than we in the “civilized” world realize. Not only can we survive the greater intensity of a life lived more directly, but the experiences deepen our appreciation of the simple comforts that we do have. In truth, if we truly value the ideas of justice and fairness it seems to me that we really should live in such a way that limits our resource use to a level that will allow our fellow humans to live better. Our very survival depends on it.

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Inside Outside

One very interesting aspect to living here, at least for now, is the amount of time I now spend outside. Even when I’m inside I’m not really. I still have to go outside to pee or poop or get water or wash a dish. I’m always outside. I’m inside to sleep or if it is raining or when I’m cooking. Sometimes I eat outside, sometimes inside depending on the weather and time of day. Breakfast is usually inside but lunch and dinner, on hot days, is usually outside. It is as though I’m somewhere between camping and living in a house. I do have access to electricity and the cabin is water proof but it is far from living in a standard dwelling. It is a very different kind of life and I love it. I’ve never felt more connected to the life around me.

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Winter Sunset

After five years my Nikon CoolPix has finally called it quits. I’ve wanted a digital slr for a long while but put it off many times. Most of my photos from the past year were taken with a GL2 which is not bad for a video camera. Thanks to the GL2 zoom I’ve been able to get some decent bird photos. Still, it’s a video camera and it shows. All this to say that I finally bought a dslr (a Canon Rebel XT and it rocks.) First slr I’ve had in 13 years and I’m remembering how much better it is to have complete control. So, here’s one of my first photos.

I should have a zoom lens at my front door tomorrow… much better for bird and critter photos!