(If this is your first time visiting the Early Days series, may I suggest you start here and work your way forward?)
Everyday life is a wee bit different when you have neither electricity nor running water, but we’re finding our way. To get water for our daily needs, we fill two five-gallon containers every couple of days from an enclosed spring with an overflow spout by the side of the state maintained road about three-quarters of a mile away.
Sometimes, we take sponge baths, and sometimes we take advantage of the almost daily rain for a brief shower. (Br-r-r!) When we feel especially in need of a good cleansing, we trek deep into the woods for an exhilarating 40-degree creek bath. Our secret site is decorated with rhododendron flowers and boasts a convenient mountain laurel towel rack. We always leave with a strange sensation of lightheadedness, especially when we wash our hair in that cold, cold water.
On occasion, we take a trip to town for a dip in the county pool preceded by a real shower with hot, running water. It’s the only time we feel really and truly clean. Eventually, these trips become a twice-weekly routine that provides us with a time for family play as well as some good exercise. Not that we don’t get plenty with all the digging and tree-cutting, but this feels different—and a lot more fun.
We spend evenings and rainy afternoons (plenty of those) reading stories aloud from our stash of books from the county library. We especially enjoy Ramona and Clifford the Big Red Dog books. Other favorites are That Quail, Robert and the iconic raccoon tale, Rascal. We’re also fascinated by Eric Sloane’s Diary of an Early American Farm Boy, a pioneer-days real life story that seems to parallel our own experiences at the moment. When we’re not reading, we pass the time creating themed crossword puzzles for each other to complete.
One of the joys of building our house ourselves is getting to be out in nature and getting to know our little corner of paradise on an intimate basis. As we dig, we find all sorts of interesting creatures: a golden-eyed spade-footed toad, black and red salamanders, and shrews that can’t seem to stay out of the holes.
Each morning brings an untold number and variety of spiderwebs, with dewdrops making them sparkle in the sun. The geometric masterpieces can be found on fences, in trees, and just about anywhere else one can imagine. I stalk these works of natural art with camera poised.
Now that we’re out here in the country so far away from city lights, we can really appreciate the night sky. In August, we ‘re treated to the Perseid meteor showers. We’ve never seen anything like it.
Mid-August heralds the beginning of the school year, which always coincides with the blooming of the touch-me-nots (or jewel weed) that line the long gravel drive to our house. Afternoon walks from the bus stop are always slow because our children can’t resist stopping to pop every seed pod they spy.
What a delightful surprise it is to discover wild blueberry and blackberry plants on our land. It’s a charmed life we’re living.
(More of the Early Days on the Diagonal series coming next week. Stay tuned.)