Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Hot Shower

The winter of ’94-95 I was living “off the grid” on Wild Pig Ridge in the wilds of the back country of Tehama County in California on the edge of Mendocino National Forest. My place had no running water…in fact, no water at all. I had to make the fifty mile trek to town to bring back enough water to meet my basic needs. (I do mean basic.) That was the year I shaved my head to save on shampooing.

The weather that winter was much the same as the weather that is pounding the Northwest this year. Hard, unrelenting storms with torrential rain & flooding & high winds. On top of The Ridge, I hunkered down in my 21' travel trailer. Babe and Squeaker and I huddled together for warmth, and peanut butter sustained us. Knitting by flickering candlelight, I produced hundreds of little “pot holders.” I stayed in touch with my kids and friends by writing Vibes.

That was also a time to skip most of the hygiene practices of civilization and just stay warm. I totally understood the down-home custom of putting on the “union suit” in the fall and taking it off in the spring. Taking care of sustenance, changing propane tanks, getting firewood were tasks that drenched the body and soul. Coming in from outside, I wanted nothing more than a hot shower. Instead…I made do with two or three cups of water dribbled over the important parts.

My road was not paved and trips to town were hampered by the weather. But I was forced to venture out once in awhile to refill propane tanks, get water and provisions, and maybe visit a laundromat. The small town had a library in a retired Safeway that was my salvation. Once a month I set out and often came home in fog so heavy I had to “drive by Braille.”

That was twelve years ago but I can still feel the bone-chilling cold and remember trying to stay upright in the wind as I went to the woodpile. Today, as I flick the thermostat to activate central heat, I think of trying time after time after time to light the cantankerous pilot light to keep the heater and little refrigerator and stove functional. Or…failing that…building and tending a fire, using the fast rushing creek to keep food cold, and eating peanut butter which does not require refrigeration or cooking.

So this morning…warm and sheltered in my cozy Hideaway, with my new stove in the kitchen, and TV to entertain me, electric lights to read by, and high speed internet to communicate, I am blessed and grateful. I also rejoice in being able to take that long-coveted hot shower.


Blogger ejramblin said...

Yes Dear, those memories do flood back! So glad you're now enjoying the luxuries of hot showers, electricity, fast communication, and love at close range! Gratefulness abounds!

3:18 PM  

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