It’s been a week since I moved to a hundred acre maple forest in rural Quebec. First it was was chop wood, stay warm. Boil tea, stay warm. Bury myself in blankets, stay warm. Try to embrace the cold while my bare ass hits the seat of the outhouse first thing in the morning, then light the stove to stay warm. But the rhythm has changed, since the sun came out. I now have an outdoor kitchen, with a two burner cookstove, a jug of water, and two basins for washing dishes. I have a solar shower hanging from a tree, behind an old white curtain, the result of which is finally clean hair. I slung my hammock between some birch trees, and can read in the sun while my cat snuffles around, following deer trails here and there only to zoom back at top speed at the slightest sound of anything.
At night, sometimes we sit by the fire up at the camp drinking gin and sugar water, boiling the last of the sap under the stars, or sometimes I curl up with a book by the light of my borrowed oil lamp. I can no longer see my cat’s breath when he meows for food in the morning. Coltsfoot are pushing up through the soil, turning their sunny yellow faces towards the April sun. My laundry, washed in a bucket early this morning, flaps in the breeze.
The other day I was sitting on a patch of moss, my cat beside me watching the dust trails in the sun, slanting through the trees in that golden, late-afternoon kind of way, and I had that feeling, that everything is so strange. It’s so strange, to be here on my own, when a month ago I was paying three dollars for laundry in an apartment with gleaming hardwood floors and original light fixtures. So strange that my legs are sore from riding horses in the woods, my shoulders sore from hauling buckets of sap, but that I’m finally sleeping well. I feel optimistic, that someday I’ll find my little place in the world. It’s not here, soon it will be time to move on. But it’s somewhere, near water, and it will have trees and fires and bookshelves and oil lamps, and I’ll see see the stars at night, and dig in the dirt in the day…
“… beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.“ – Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek.