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Living in the Elements

‘The smell of the damp earth after a rainfall is intoxicating to my nostrils…’

Still beautiful when raining.

I’d certainly be remiss if I lead you to believe I know about living year-round in the elements at my off-grid lake cabin. I can only give you my perspective for the experiences I have had, which are more limited because I have never spent a full season here. I have never been here for a full Spring or Fall, and I have certainly never experienced Winter here, (except one overnighter when I was a child, but that will be another story). Right in this moment, I can hear my dear year-round lake friends, saying, “What? You have no clue about living here in the elements year-round, how could you write about it?” Yes, I hear them now, but write I will, about my perspectives, because every moment, and I mean every moment here is connected to the natural world and the environment here, you are surrounded by it, and it’s fabulous!

In the city, it seems that the weather outside is secondary to everyday life, at least, for most people. With more space (usually), and amenities and power, it pretty much does not matter what is happening weather-wise or temperature-wise outside.

I have never lived at my lake full-time. With the little to no real amenities, and visiting to a cabin that is more remote, that is, no road, no power, no running water for a hot shower and no indoor bathroom or flushing toilet, I can just straight-up say I am just not up for the full-time year-round experience here, and truthfully, before just me, neither were my parents. The cabin, which is, now over 60+ years old, has no ceiling or wall insulation either, and therefore, my life at the lake has been limited and seasonal, and only during the warmer weather.

I’ll just stop there for a moment for you to digest all the cabin and amenity ‘have-nots’, and then I will tell you that this place still has so many incredible, special, unique, nature-forest-water-sky-private-nobody-around- pluses, that to me, it has always been my little piece of paradise. My focus for this share is to give you my perspective with regards to the effect of the weather outside and what living this close to nature and being in the elements is really like and how it all essentially affects my world. I suppose down the road I should interview those few dear friends who actually live here year-round and share a proper perspective on full-time living. These peeps certainly have that first-hand knowledge. I might add however, that these unique and dedicated souls have cabins that truly aren’t cabins anymore, they are full-functioning residences with insulation, often multi-source power systems (plus backups), full kitchen and laundry facilities and amenities like showers and toilets. These friends live here, all-be-it in a very solitary and remote style of living off-season in Winter, have built-in means to be more comfortable in rain, sleet, hail and snow for long lengths at a time. My world, my cabin property, is completely raw and still, for the most part, the original, old-fashioned tiny wood cabin, with off-grid, secluded simple living. I joke here when I say, I think that my carpenter ants and hanging little bats on the decks are my unusual house pets.  Yesterday at my place, it was sunny and warm, and the whole world was bright and happy and exquisitely beautiful. Today the rain is pounding down on my tin roof, and, admittedly though it feels cozy inside, the reality outside is very different, it is chilly, wet, and dark and miserable. However, I’d rather be cozy in here this morning writing this piece, even with the pounding down rain out there, than anywhere else in the world. 

I love the sound of the rain hitting the water, it's like bells.

Driving home in an open boat in the night, and being able to see properly in pounding rain is a learned experience, and I am fully capable, but it is not as enjoyable as a nice dry ride home in the dark, or better still, a lovely night when the moon is bright and illuminating my way home. An additional note is that I am so grateful now for the invention of solar lighting, which I have placed on my decks, docks and sprinkled along my property in the front. (I never leave a light on in my cabin, because it burns a fuel, propane, and we respect and protect our cabins and the forest here with any flammable fuel). These solar lights, and solar power in general has been an amazing plus to off-grid living. In residence at my cabin I definitely prefer the bright warm sunshine, and it makes me a happier and cheerier person when the elements here cooperate, and we can enjoy sunny skies and warm weather for our vacation time. However, an occasional wet and rainy day is quite acceptable and we can always be cozy in the cabin for short periods. My fear today is that the weather will remain poor now for the next few days, up until I plan to leave on the weekend, which is disappointing. Leaving here is a big deal if the weather is poor, because everything has to go several miles by an open boat to get to our car to go back to the city. Loading and unloading over the years did involve the kids and a dog at times, and so when it rains it takes a tad more planning to endure the elements.

I can share with you, that we, the lake dwellers, have simple ways to face the rain. Firstly, we put on a good attitude and respect the liquid sunshine as it comes to keep our forests green and protect the forests in the heat from fires. Secondly, as a ‘wash and wear’ girl, what is a little rain now and then, well, no big deal, (unless it is the end of a stay and I tend to feel a little sad when the weather is not so nice.) Here at the lake back in my youth I used to admire a woman who had such a charismatic personality. She was fun, had such a zest for life, and I remember her wearing nothing but a big flowing 1940’s style raincoat over her shorts, or simple summer clothing when it rained. On her feet were flip-flops, never boots. She had hair trimmed very short, and always wore a smile. I can still remember her laugh. Visually she reminded me a little of Audrey Hepburn. She was the reason my family ended up buying a cabin here because even my father was under her charismatic spell. My parents were old friends of hers back East, and one of her children was a girl very near to my age. I do believe she had several husbands! She was a lovely woman, rest her soul. The weather elements very much affect how a feel up here in the forest, the weather being front and foremost affecting what you see and what you can do. Without a TV, (at least in my little cabin), a good book, or for me, a chance to write, is my entertainment when the weather gets poor. I am praying today that this clears up so I can at least enjoy my last couple of days of the year here with a little more outdoor time. When my children were younger they were really happy to play boards games and cards, and do crafts, like colour, draw or paint. As they got older they did manage to do a lot of ‘electronic’ things with their cell phones and iPads, although the charging situation is still pretty basic and limited here. Over the years, I have used my boat battery to charge my devices, and I will say when it rains it is kind of a big deal to go out, open up the boat cover, climb in and out to charge devices. The boat is older now and the covers are no longer waterproof, so it’s a balancing act, especially at my age now. I am sure when one day I am long gone from here, the new residents will update my little piece of paradise and update all the systems here, most people have.

There is nothing nicer and more fulfilling than living in nature, away from the city, raw as it is here. The air, the sunshine, the water, and the scents of this environment fill your soul with delight and completely recharge your battery. Even on the cloudiest, windiest and rainiest days, this place is still, and always will be, the best place in the world. Living out in the natural elements is incredibly powerful, and I am very grateful for every day I get the pleasure of spending here at the lake in my little forest.

Socked in but still so peaceful...

‘I’m breaking out of the cabin as the rain subsides, and as I take a deep breath and appreciate all the incredible wet, sweet and earthy scents, I can feel the grin starting to spread across my face…’

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