Post #3137: Cabin retreat


I feel it’s awfully important that I be able to spend time alone. I’m not sure why that feels imperative, but it does. So this week I’m at the cabin by myself for five days – though I will have a couple of days with the electrician here, so not totally alone. It’s a bit of a test I guess. I’ve co-owned this property for five years, and yet never spent a night on it by myself.

As I’m writing, darkness is falling on my first night here. It’s only 4:40, but as we’ve just reverted from daylight savings it feels later to me. In a little bit I will make dinner, but I gorged myself on potato chips when I came in from my walk earlier so I’m not particularly hungry.

I was surprised to see snow when I arrived. Not that it’s unusual for this time of year, but down below in Princeton, the ground is dry as a bone. I forget that our higher altitude and the fact we’re situated in a watershed makes a big difference during the swing seasons of spring and fall. The ice is much earlier in covering the lakes, and later in receding. Though Link Lake is not yet frozen, ice has formed around its edges and so the process has clearly begun. The wind this afternoon carried the frozen taste of winter giving me an ice-cream headache when I stood too long at the head of the lake in its purview. While I brought my warmest jacket and scarves, I failed to bring a toque or pair of mittens with me. It’s still so warm on the coast this year.

Coming here to find snow gladdened me somewhat, as I’ve been worried about the fact temperatures elsewhere aren’t dropping as they “should”. It’s hard not to be infected by fear these days – I’m working hard at inoculation against the worst of it by rooting myself in as much present enjoyment as I can muster. During a phone call on Saturday my mother asked me what I wanted to do about a piece of property in ten years time (when I possibly retire) – which even at the best of times would be an impossible thing to forecast. In this particular climate of change though, it seems downright ludicrous.

As much as I want to write about the sticky demands of my family, I’m going to leave that aside for a moment and note that I have a couple of projects while I am here that I plan to devote my time to. The first is helping the electrician who is coming to figure out why we have shorts in our system post drywalling. The second is to write a post (and to my cabin co-owners) my thoughts on toilet and greywater systems. And the third is to collect a series of blog posts and essays into a single document along with a number of quotations and other bits and pieces – in order to see what kind of mass (mess?) it compiles into.

While I’ve felt the need to focus on writing essays recently and I have a couple more in the hopper right now, I also want to figure out what I’ve got in terms of semi-finished material already. Even if I don’t have a publishable book in me, I do feel the need to collect this material together to see what it is exactly. I suspect at the very least it’s a coherent philosophy of how to get by in the world right now. 

I am writing at the moment to loosen my fingers and keep myself company. I have come here because there are fewer distractions than at home or in the city. As much as I don’t like being separated from Brian or the rest of my life – it’s exactly what I need in order to get down to it – to hear myself think outloud on the page for a few sustained days and see what comes of that.

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