Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Outhouse With A View

August 12, 2012

Nova Scotia:  1974 – 1984

It is remarkable to me that until quite recently I never gave much thought to the ways in which my Nova Scotia summers formed the person I’ve become. I spent many of my  summers from the age of 9 to 19  away from friends, TV and telephones in the wilderness of Nova Scotia with my family: mom, dad, three older brothers, a younger sister and our faithful companion Timmy, our German Sheppard. We lived each summer without a connection to the outside world – no cell phones, or internet. We spent our time building a log cabin and improving it each summer. Our evenings were spent around the table playing games – Yatzee, Canasta, and Trivial Pursuit or telling tales of the adventures of the day. Mom and dad took turns reading aloud to us by the light of the lantern after we climbed into our bunks in the rafters. I fell asleep to the sound of my father’s voice and woke to him clattering around the cast iron stove in the morning.

Our days were filled with jobs and hard work, “Bring a rock!” (see earlier post), but there was much time for lazy afternoons canoeing, sailing, swimming and exploring. I remember disappearing into the vastness of those woods feeling that I’d been gone so long mom would surely have sent out a search party. I would get lost sitting on a stump staring at the ferns blanketing the forest floor. I would sit, stare and think of the adventures I would have in life or just think of nothing at all. It was peace. Sometimes I would stare across the pond at the Clive’s cabin and wish for electricity wondering how to get it across the pond.

I remember spending hours in the water. We bathed and swam daily. I learned that ivory soap floats and this was important. I remember jumping off the dock my sister and I built, floating in the water watching the clouds go by, feeling weightless, free and connected to my world. I remember the leaches along the shore!! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!

I remember the outhouse my dad built. It was located down an isolated path from our one room cabin. It had three walls, a roof and an amazing view of the lake. At sunset the view went from amazing to spectacular when it was accompanied by the songs and dance of the loons on our pond. My friends think our three wall outhouse is absolutely hilarious but to me it was perfectly normal. Now I know my dad was a genius. Why would you want to sit in an enclosed stinky dark room when you could spend your time enjoying the view?

Thirty years later this is what I know:  the smell of the woods enters your soul and never leaves, life in the wild will change you forever, teenagers can survive without electricity, running water and TV, we don’t need to be entertained 24/7, silence is good, unscheduled time is vital, very little in the way of material things are needed to live a full and happy life. It’s good to sit and enjoy the view every now and then.

                                                        Everyone has a story to tell . . .

(photo by Ted Johnson, AKA "dad" / Pictured: mom and Timmy)
Learn more about the importance of the woods and the new threat "nature-deficit disorder":
Learn how to capture your amazing stories from "Shimmering Images"
Find a place to get outside!!