I can tell you why we have begun to talk about ATV’s.
We have lived here for years now without machine power (except from the chainsaw we got two years ago). Meaning that all shovelling of snow, towing of logs, digging of fields and carrying firewood… have been done by hand, by back, by will power.
This morning we sat in the kitchen and talked.
We talked about a guy we know further north, he’s young, strong as a oxe, stubborn and idealistic – he used to live around here and we like him. If anyone could live a primitive life in the woods it would be him.
He bought a place further north and is now having a hard time because of all the work that needs to be done, he doesn’t have the time or the energy and all of the guest, woofers and volunteers that come to help him seems to be city people dreamers… how they don’t know… how they have no worth ethics… how they handle the tools as if there was an endless supply of tools… an endless supply of food and firewood. But how he can’t- on the other hand- do everything alone.
Then we talked about some other people that we know here.
Man, are they hardcore!
We were sitting in the kitchen and talking about this (inserted footnote: we talk much better now that I said that I won’t do the laundry or the dishes alone anymore and he said “well, yeah, ok, that’s fair”) … as the snow slowly fell from the sky.
I love snow.
Snow calms me, soothes me, snow always makes everything fall into place. I couldn’t live without the snow.
You should know this about snow: snow is quiet realisation, not sparkling visions or clean clarity as frost, no, snow is home, snow is warmth, snow cleans the world from all of the clutter, snows quiets all of the chatter. Snow is calm, eternally calm.
“Shit, if we had known what we now know …” I said but he interrupted me “I think we needed the hardship, this was a sort of forced re-acculturation wasn’t it?” and I nodded because it’s true.
Maybe we needed to do all of the work by hand and by back and by sheer will power.
I’m not saying suffering is necessary (well, it IS what I’m saying) (and I don’t know how to finish this sentence)
You throw the tools on the ground if you don’t know the value of tools.
You burn all of the firewood at once if you don’t know the value of firewood.
You sleep long in the summertime if you don’t know the value of summertime.
We talked about that because the guy we know further north, a guy who knows much more about bush craft and survival skills than us…. wrote an essay describing challenges that I recognised.
Bitterness is always dangerous as is solitude yet there seems to be some convergence between our experiences… the experiences of all of the people living like this.
That’s when we began to talk about an ATV.
How it would change our lives fundamentally.
See, it is a problem for us to gather firewood, not so much to take down the trees but to transport either trees, logs or chopped up wood to the cabin (we’ ve tried every possibility). It is a problem for us to grow our vegetables in hugelkultur beds because my back is broken and my pelvis and what-have-I-not… I can’t work intensively in the garden and he can’t both build houses, sheds, saunas, barns, greenhouses AND work the garden. And then there’s the snow.
We drive our car up and down the forest road to create tracks. If it snows too much we walk that road (up to the bigger forest road) with shovels in our hands, backs, will power.
Summa summarum: to live completely alone in the woods is close to impossible, people who did back in the days had horses and the more experienced people doing it now have….ATV’s.
You just can’t do it all alone…which is why we have had so many guest and volunteers and woofers. And which is also why our friend have been having so many guest and woofers and volunteers and then suddenly your job becomes one of education- and that’s not really why we’re here is it? We are here because the UN-eduaction.
We’re probably the worst teachers in the world.
After 3 or 4 cups of morning coffee we began the work: we did the dishes together, fed the chickens, walked the dog, collected firewood, water, checked to the compost toilet and the bucket under the sink, these are the morning chores, and then of course: to drive up and down the forest road.
Then he went upstairs to finish the record he’s making. I should work the manuscript but I can’t, the snow contains so much calm, I need to go outside and roll around in it.