Sharing Thoughts

Every day in the bush is a day spent in my own company.

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
Aldous Huxley

Solitude is important to me, I need a lot of it. I love sincere people. I find them profoundly interesting, and frequently delightful. Their company is rejuvenating. Social contact with the insincere is a plague.

“There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not [hu]man the less, but Nature more”
George Gordon Byron

My days of solitude are surrounded by nature. My property is wild, flora and fauna growing where and how it will. Around it though are constant reminders of human indulgence and excess. Generators roar, ATVs whine beneath the trees, snowmobiles drone through white expanses, and there is a frequent hum of SUV’s on the distant highway. It seems the planet cannot hear itself think.

“If you are alone you belong entirely to yourself. If you are accompanied by even one companion you belong only half to yourself or even less in proportion to the thoughtlessness of his conduct and if you have more than one companion you will fall more deeply into the same plight.”
Leonardo da Vinci

Yes, oh yes, the thoughtlessness of conduct diminishes. Spending time with shallow people, intent on maintaining false fronts of comfort, is very difficult and unfulfilling work. I have observed though, that in many instances, in the company of other sincere beings, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”
May Sarton

I agree that solitude is richness of self, when one can detach for periods of time from connections with others. I have to disagree about loneliness representing a poverty of self. It can do, of course. Most loneliness, I feel, is not a poverty of self, but a poverty of community, communities that have failed to provide meaningful and strong experiences of connection.

“Can you understand being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the well
so you could feel something down there
tug at the other end of the rope?”
Jack Gilbert

And it is here that I come to today’s personal epiphany. Alone, with the cold wind roaring against the walls for company, I began to read aloud. I surprised myself, because I enjoyed it, giving my voice to another person’s thoughts, as if they might really be here. I realized how unfamiliar my own voice has become, how strange the resonance in my head, and chest. After stumbling along the words the path suddenly cleared, and the story lay smooth before me, echoes of human thoughts and feelings, that were not my own.

It is Luna’s birthday today, hoping she has a good one! When I was her age I thought myself approaching old age. Now I think of her age as young. Time has its own parallax.

The wind is literally roaring around the house. Snow squalls come and go. The temperature is dropping. The winds are to roar for several days, and we anticipate power failures. We have setup our cooler and planned a few days meals that can be cooked on the little cast iron wood stove in the basement. Our candles and emergency lights are on the ready. There is little more we can do to prepare.

Mist, who is totally deaf, is totally undisturbed by the roaring gusts!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-1°C
Date: 2:39 PM EST Monday 9 December 2013
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -1.0°C
Dewpoint: -3.7°C
Humidity: 82%
Wind: SW 22 gust 32 km/h
Wind Chill: -7

Quote

“One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries.”
A. A. Milne
1882 – 1956

Winter Landscape

An important survival skill, when living a life of isolation, is to structure time according to conditions. Winter, bringing dangerous driving conditions, and requiring strategies for domestic heat, alters the daily landscape. Travel becomes a complex challenge, vulnerable to unpredictable circumstance. In the winter our world shrinks, and we are made aware of the forces of the natural world. How very different this is from living in an urban setting, even in a small town.

After enjoying the freedom of movement afforded by clear driving conditions and temperatures above freezing, I have been slow to adapt to winter conditions. It is time now. The world has turned white. The roads out are capricious. The masonry heater must be fired several times each day. The seasonal people have all fled this natural environment for urban comforts and conveniences. Attila is seldom seen in daylight; neighbours are only seen from a distance.

My world transformed slowly, over the course of a few weeks. My first, unthinking, reaction has been to spend copious amounts of time working on my computer projects. I began to notice stinging eyes, aching neck and wrists, and shortness of breath when moving about. Oh dear! Inactivity, the real challenge of confinement, requires conscious effort to overcome.

To prevent myself from spending too much time at the computer keyboard, I have setup my timing software to allow 30 minutes of computer activity, before freezing the computer for five minutes. When the computer freezes I get up to stretch and putter around the house. That gives me 10 minutes of activity every hour. This does not provide me with enough consecutive movement to give my system a workout. But it is far superior to working through the entire day on the computer, which I am quite capable of doing, without even noticing. Perhaps too, it is time to commandeer the kitchen cart as a standing computer desk; at least occasionally.

In the realm of the printed page, a few shorter paragraphs are easier to digest than one very long paragraph. So it seems with time, short broken segments of time seem much easier to digest.

The wind abated somewhat last night, so Attila and I went for a walk during the evening. By the time Attila gets home it is dark outside, so we walk in the dark. There are no lights, other than the neighbour’s dim beacons of domestic habitation, so it takes a few minutes for our eyes to adjust to the dark, so that we can see our way down the road. It is difficult though, for Attila to find time to go for a walk, as he has worked long hours during the day, and must chop wood, and keep the heating system going, when he comes home from work. We both enjoy it though, when we manage to get out there together.

Tonight Attila is exhausted, he had a busy, busy day at work. After bringing in enough wood for three firings, he begged off being awake and headed early to bed. I will stay up to close down the masonry heater when the fire is spent, and then I will follow his example and take myself off to bed. It is getting colder, we are expecting a low of -13C, then down to -17C tomorrow night. With the 40 to 60 km per hour winds, the wind chill bites.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-9°C
Date: 9:50 PM EST Wednesday 27 November 2013
Condition: Cloudy
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -9.1°C
Dewpoint: -12.6°C
Humidity: 76%
Wind: NW 24 gust 39 km/h
Wind Chill: -17

Quote

“By learning to discover and value our ordinariness, we nurture a friendliness toward ourselves and the world that is the essence of a healthy soul.”
Thomas Moore
1779 – 1852