Moving Outhouses…

Near my tent, there are three outhouses. Being a single individual, I decided early on that I would only worry about keeping one stocked with necessities (bucket, toilet paper, sawdust, farmer’s almanac). I chose the one the faced East in order to catch the early morning rays.

Last week was my last week of class for the semester. As a celebration, I invited the students and faculty of the program out for a bonfire and potluck. It was a beautiful evening by the way. Since I was hosting so many people (at least compared to the camps’s usual population of one), I decided to open up another outhouse and stock it with a bucket, toilet paper and sawdust (I decided against purchasing another farmer’s almanac). This outhouse faces South. It doesn’t get the early morning rays, but it does get light throughout the day. It is nice to change views every now and again.

A few days ago, I needed to use the facilities later on in the evening. When I opened the door of the first outhouse and entered, there was sudden frenetic activity above me. I fled the outhouse followed closely by a robin. Apparently few beings, whether humans or birds, enjoy sharing an outhouse, at least a single seater outhouse.

The following day. I decided to check out the outhouse in the day and sure enough, in the rafters, there was a small robin’s nest. A robin’s nest? In an outhouse? This is no place for a nest I thought. After all, I am a human being. I certainly should receive preference over a bird for my use of the outhouse. So I picked the nest up, ensuring that there were no eggs in it, and flung it out the doorway.

I used the outhouse then. I was convinced that I, in my human righteousness, had been right in my indignation. As I sat there however, I began to think. Thinking is usually a side effect of using an outhouse.

I have three outhouses. I don’t really need three. I don’t really need two. One would certainly suffice.

A robin doesn’t use their nest for long either. Though I don’t know how long a robin sits on her nest, I know that certainly, it will not be long before she and her fledglings have left it.

I do enjoy the robins. They are a very welcome sight in the springtime, especially after this long winter.

By the end of the session, I realized how unfairly I had treated the robin.

I reached down, gently handled the nest, and returned it to it’s perch, hoping that Sister Robin would forgive me for my insolence and not mind it being somewhat more tussled than she had left it…

Last night, I peeked in the building and looked up at the nest. Sure enough, there was Mother sitting vigilantly in her home. I decided to start using the South facing outhouse only.

It’s nice to have neighbours.

 

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WB: Window Poems: 13

Note: If you’re enjoying reading about my Camp Life, I would like to suggest you check out my friend Spence’s blog, Rediscover the Wild in Wilderness. He’s also living in a wall tent (see, I’m not the only crazy one!) though he’s doing it up in Thunder Bay!

The following poem comes from a book called Window Poems. It consists of a number of poems that Mr. Berry wrote in “The Camp,” a cabin on the Kentucky River. Berry had known this cabin for a long time, had grown up using it, and when he first married his wife Tanya, they returned there. The Camp was primitive, kerosene lanterns, butane stoves and an outhouse without a door (the door after all would ruin the view). Obviously, there is much about this lifestyle that I admire. The poems contained in this book were written as Berry looked out the window of The Camp at the river.

13.
Sometimes he thinks the earth
might be better without humans.
He’s ashamed of that.
It worries him,
him being a human, and needing
to think well of others
in order to think well of himself.
And there are
a few he thinks well of,
a few he loves
as well as himself almost,
and he would like to say
better. But history
is so largely unforgiveable.
And not his mighty government
wants to help everybody
even if it has to kill them
to do it–like the fellow in the story
who helped his neighbor to Heaven:
‘I heard the Lord calling him,
Judge, and I sent him on.’
According to the government
everybody is just waiting
to be given a chance
to be like us. He can’t
go along with that.
Here is a thing, flesh of his flesh,
that he hates. He would like
a little assurance
that no one will destroy the world
for some good cause.
Until he dies, he would like his life
to pertain to the earth.
But there is something in him
that will wait, even
while he protests,
for things turn out as they will.
Out of his window this morning
he saw nine ducks in filght,
and a hawk dive at his mate
in delight.
The day stands apart
from the calendar. There is a will
that receives it as enough.
He is given a fragment of time
in this fragment of the world.
He likes it pretty well.