Friday, May 16, 2008

Seasonal Accommodationists

From We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich.

It may be a little late in the season to comment on winter, but I found this an engaging passage in a wholly engaging book about life in the deep north woods of Maine in the early 40’s. I recommend it for fine stories, winsome style, and worthy reflections on both the things of nature, and the nature of things.

After I grew up, I still hated (winter), and I think that now I know the reason why. In civilization we try to combat winter. We try to modify it so that we can continue to live the same sort to life that we live in summer. We plow the sidewalks so we can wear low shoes. And the road so we can use cars. We heat every enclosed space and then, inadequately clad, dash quickly from one little pocket of hot air through a bitter no-man’s land of cold to another. We fool around with sun lamps, trying to convince our skins the air is really August, and we eat travel0worn spinach in an attempt to sell the same idea to our stomachs. Naturally , it doesn’t work very well. You can neither remodel nor ignore a thing as big as winter.

In the woods, we don’t try to. We just let winter be winter, and any adjustments that have to be made, we make in ourselves and our way of living. We have to. The skin between outdoors and indoors here is so much thinner than it is even in a small town, that it’s sometimes hard to tell where one stops and the other begins. We can’t dress, for example, for a day in the house. Such a thing doesn’t exist. We have to go outdoors continually – to get in wood, to go to the john, to run down to the other house and put wood on the kitchen fire, to get water, to hack a piece of steak off the frozen deer hanging in the woodshed, or for any one of a dozen other reasons. Outdoors is just another bigger, colder room. When we get up in the morning we dress with the idea that we’ll be using this other room all day. When we step into it we make the concession of putting on mittens if we’re really going to be there
long enough.

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot's wife said...

I picked up this book secondhand and my boys loved it! So much that I don't own it anymore. It resides at my son Jonathan's house. My favorite part is where the author is reading a study about how many people still don't have indoor plumbing. She fumes that how awful this is in this day and age for this to be so. Then remembers that SHE doesn't have indoor plumbing!