Cabin Living: missing the solar shower

We’re home! What was the first thing we did when we got home yesterday? We turned on the hot water tank so that we could have a luxurious soak.

Actually, it’s stinking hot here, so what we really wanted was a luxurious cold soak just to cool down! But you do still need a little hot water mixed in. Otherwise you might as well shower in ice water, and unless you’re a polar bear, that’s too cold!

So…how did we shower at the cabin? I can hear you wondering!

Well, Mr. C walks with the big canning kettle down to the lake and scoops it full of water and carries it back up to the house. We light the propane stove and put the water on to heat. In the winter, we heat the water on the wood stove. But in the summer, it’s too warm to have the wood stove going. Since we use a solar shower bag, we could fill it and leave the black rubbery plastic bag out in the sun to warm (its intended purpose, after all), but we prefer to shower in the morning, before the sun will have worked its magic on the water. When our shower water is just the perfect temperature, we pour it into the shower bag and hang it up in our home-made shower stall. The shower stall is located in the small room off the main cabin, the “little addition room” we call it, not just because it is an addition built onto the main cabin, but because it contains all of our “additionals.” A spare bed which will sleep one guest – Michael’s childhood bed, as a matter of fact; the wood bin which we keep full all year ‘round; a chest for storing towels and spare bedding, with one drawer dedicated to “junk”; an antique sideboard that belonged to Mr. C’s mother, good for storage but that also has a good flat work surface; the cat’s litter box, shelves where I keep various odds & sods: my crafts, my collection of hats, spare boxes of Kleenex, Mr. C’s binoculars. In one corner of this tiny room is the home made shower stall. When the shower bag is hung, you must stand in a sort of deep-kneed squat in order to get your head under the nozzle. It’s actually quite a clever way of getting in one’s daily calisthenics…active showering!

Showering at the cabin can also be a bit of a shivery affair. You don’t get that buildup of warm steam that insulates you in your little bathtub world at home. Here, when your shower is finished, the cool air comes pouring in and you have to jump quickly and dry off (especially in the winter!)

Our showers are like the ones you take on a boat or in an RV, if you’ve ever done that. You open the nozzle and get yourself wet all over, then stand in a puddle of rapidly cooling water while soaping up and shampooing your hair. Then you open the nozzle again to rinse off. The solar bag holds enough water for two showers if I don’t need to wash my hair. Mr. C always goes first because he likes the water hotter than I do. I get a bit of a longer shower because Mr. C usually underestimates how much water is left in the bag and leaves me more than half. Or maybe he’s just being courteous. He’s like that, you know.

For some reason that I can’t put into words, it is an exquisite pleasure to shower this way. And it’s also an exquisite pleasure to live this way for a bit of time each year. Without phone, electricity, running water, internet. It reminds me of how little one really needs to be happy.

…And of how nice a hot shower is. Especially when you’ve scooped it, carried it, heated it and poured it yourself.

Morning

The rumble of thunder woke us up early. I lay in bed and listened to the rolling echo bounce between the hills across the lake, the rain drumming on the roof. We stayed long in our housecoats, had second cups of coffee, ate leftover dessert for breakfast. Later, when the rain stopped, Mr. C loaded the truck for an errand run to town and I rolled my mat out on the deck, ready for my daily hour of yoga practice, content with only myself for company. More thunder grumbled in the distance, the air fresh and clean and slightly cool, the sky blue and milky-white and blue again.

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Company (or whatever you do, don’t get locked in the outhouse)

The deck spilled over with people, an impromptu gathering of friends old and new for a picnic. Some that were invited hadn’t been able to make it. Others brought friends to introduce to us. Everybody came with food…burgers, salmon, a dozen salads, fruit, desserts. The children played in the lake and the dogs ranged between sets of knees, hoping for a handout. Rebekah closed the outhouse door too tightly, causing the hasp to fall, trapping her on the wrong side of the locked door. We were just starting to wonder where she had gotten to when we heard her musical voice calling from the distant side of the yard, “Hello? Hello? Anyone…?” We will laugh about that for years to come. Eventually the children changed into their pajamas and started to yawn. The dogs licked the last plate clean. The sun started to sink toward the northwest and we all realized it was nearly 10:30. Food was packed up, goodbyes said, hugs given, promises made, friends departed.
 

We Arrived!

When we left the Yukon to pursue a new life as early retirees 17 months ago, our plan was that we would return for at least one month every year. Except for that first year. Mr. C travelled back and forth quite a bit doing contract work, but I wanted to experience an entire uninterrupted year in the Shuswap before leaving. And also, I was a little bit afraid of coming back too soon. Afraid I would be overcome with homesickness.

But this year we have both come back together and I’m pleased to report that I don’t feel any grief or homesickness whatsoever. We really do have the best of both worlds. It was a good decision to relocate – we love living in the Shuswap. And it was a good decision to keep our Yukon property…our tiny-yet-full-of-character heritage log cabin that has sunk in the back corner so that a marble rolls in a lazy S pattern across the floor and where Fox Lake is only fifteen steps from the front porch. (Yes, I just got up and counted them. 15 steps.) Some sad day we will have to sell it because a time will come when we will need the income. That is the day that will break our hearts. But not yet. Not for a dozen or more years.

Here at the cabin, we only exist in the here and now. There is no yesterday. There is no tomorrow. Only today. And since we will be here for a long and luxurious 7 weeks, that is a lot of todays to enjoy.

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Fox Lake

So…we spent 5 days traveling 2,560 kilometers (that’s approximately 1500 miles for you metric-challenged folk) from our new home in the Shuswap to our home-away-from-home in the Yukon. Lots of people do it much quicker than this, and I think it’s a shame. I love the drive, I love the Alaska Highway and I love taking my time to enjoy it. A seven-hour driving day is just about right for us, though we usually end up driving for eight. After 8 hours, we’re tired and ready to stop for the day.

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The Alaska Highway somewhere between Fort Saint John & Fort Nelson, BC. May 2015

 

And the weather on this trip! Don’t get me started…the weather was completely, absolutely, 100% FANTASTIC the entire drive. Sunny blue sky. Warm. Perfect. Every day.

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When we arrived in Whitehorse, Mr. C picked up the car (he travels back and forth doing contract work in the winter, so keeps a car here) and went off to contact his flying students while I continued on to the cabin in the truck & camper. I was looking forward to that first glimpse of the lake … looking forward to following the twisting North Klondike Highway until it crosses Fox Creek, past the boot-end of the lake, all reedy and full of beaver dams before it climbs a bit and follows just above the lake. When we arrived at the top of the drive, I got out to unlock the chain and smelled the hot dusty smell of early spring, the sticky-sweet smell of newly opened leaves (spring comes late in the Yukon), the clear green smell of lake water. I smiled when I saw the Private Residence sign nailed to a tree. That’s Us! The Collins’ are back in residence!

In the truck, Sam stood on the passenger seat, his front paws on the dashboard. He was whining and staring intently down the drive, ears up, tail wagging. He knew exactly where we were. Back in the camper, the cats opened their eyes, stood up and stretched, enjoying a welcome break from the swaying and rattling of the “noisy moving house.”

“Hello house! Hello lake! I’m back!” I stood outside the open truck door and threw open my arms, yelled the words with a big grin on my face. The little cabin was so happy to see us, too! The first thing I did was unlock the front door and go inside, one step behind Samson. Sam jumped up into his window seat to see if his basket of toys was still there (it was) while I set about opening the house. I unlocked each shutter in turn, opened the windows to let in the air and light, turned on the propane, and lit the fridge. I carried the cats into the house and set them down on the bed. They knew exactly where they were, too. Whiskers curled forward, ears pricked up; they raised their chins and sniffed and sniffed. Then they set about investigating the entire place, saving the best for last: a roll-about on the deck and a good long soak in the sun on the deck they remember so well. Meanwhile, I unpacked the camper and stowed away the groceries, our clothing and the selection of quilting, knitting & sewing projects, my laptop, notebooks and novels to read that I’d brought with me.

There was still a bit of ice on the lake, and the leaves on the willow trees along the lakeshore were not quite open yet. I was so glad! I love to watch them unfurl. Spring in the Yukon lasts about 3 days. I’m glad I was here in time to see it.

When Mr. C arrived we set up the patio furniture and had supper.

Grilled cheese sandwiches & a bag of chips. Beer for him and a cider for me. Maybe not the healthiest supper ever, but just the perfect homecoming feast after a long five days on the road.

Ahhhh….It’s good to be back!

Y: Yukon meditation

In 2012 I did a series of one minute films that I called “one Yukon minute.” The idea was to spend one minute in meditation, looking at a photograph…except it would be a living photograph, with movement and sound. Serene. Tranquil. Something to reflect on and calm the mind. A moving meditation, so to speak.

Taking a moment – even just one minute – to stop and mediate on something beautiful helps to bring balance to our lives. Each film is one minute long. Here are two of my favourites:

Filmed October 7, 2012. Sunset at the Fox Lake house.

and…

One month later, November 10, 2012. The beginning of freeze-up at the Fox Lake house.

YI’m participating in the Blogging From A-Z challenge.  One blog post for each letter of the alphabet, each day of April (except Sunday)

F: Firewood at Fox Lake

A couple of years ago I started making little one-minute vignettes. I called them meditative moments. A chance to sit and relax, rest your mind and gaze at a meditative moving picture.

Here is last November 18, 2012. Getting ready for winter at the Fox Lake cabin:

It’s so relaxing, watching else someone stack the firewood, isn’t it?

The sound you hear in the background is the generator. We had been using the splitter. I took a break to make this little film.

 

FI’m participating in the Blogging From A-Z challenge.  One blog post for each letter of the alphabet, each day of April (except Sunday).