When we order anything through the Internet, it rarely arrives by the estimated delivery date, if it gets here at all. Then half the time it’s broken. That’s to be expected, I guess, when your address involves detailed directions like second right past a creek that isn’t marked, down a lane with someone else’s name on it, and then a quarter mile through a yet-to-be-plowed two-track (that’s another story).
Most troubling at this point is our composting toilet from SunMar, which arrived two weeks late, in Whitefish (just named “Destination of the Month” by Vogue) because they refused to deliver it to Polebridge. Chris hoisted the 150-pound package into the Expedition and delivered it himself, only to find a busted-up product when he took it out of the box.
I could go into the whole back-and-forth process we’ve had with the manufacturer, the vendor, and the delivery company, but suffice it to say that no one wants to take responsibility, tell us how to repair it, or, better yet, replace it. So, in the meantime, Chris has introduced me to the versatility of a tiny metal trash can with a lid. It’s not how I imagined our life when we first met, I’ll tell you that.
Then there’s the other challenge: firewood. We have two cords of wood that are still in log form, four to six feet long. Jake the Wood Guy promised to come back out to cut those down to size, but then he fell down the side of a mountain and broke his back. His son was supposed to come out to finish the job, but when Chris declined an offer to buy even more firewood from them before they finished this job, we never heard from them again.
Now Chris needs to fix his temperamental chainsaw and finish the job himself, but that’ll have to wait until he finishes the bathroom. So far, we have a floor and walls, but, of course, no throne. Next, we will create a sleeping loft above to maximize the available space, and the outside west wall will provide shelf space for the kitchen area, as will the ladder leading up to the loft.
It’s still very much a work in progress, and we have a lot of research to do on things like using a Coleman stove inside. So far, cooking on the woodstove has been OK, but controlling the heat is impossible. Sometimes things burn, other times they don’t get beyond tepid. I’ve learned to start the process long before either of us is hungry, tired, or thirsty for a hot drink.
What makes it all worthwhile are the little moments of magic, like the time I was stoking the firebox and I heard Chris whisper loudly, “Monica, Monica, look at this … quick,” he said. I put down the poker and tiptoed over to the window. “See it?” he asked.
“Right there, right there, by the tire tracks. See it?”
I pushed my glasses up on my nose and squinted harder. Then I saw it. A little creature covered in fur as white as the snow he was sitting in. The very tip of his tail looked like it had been dipped in ink, and his eyes were shiny black beads. He popped up on his hind legs and surveyed the meadow, then he scurried right up to our deck without leaving a single footprint. We made eye contact, and I wondered what that little jack or jill weasel made out of the two bug-eyed giants staring out from a spaceship-like structure. It must have had quite a tale to share with its sneak that night.
There have also been majestic moments, like the day Chris followed the Border Patrol truck, just to see what they do all day, and they passed a gang of elk. Chris heard the crashing of horns and pulled off to the side of the road. So did the Border Patrol officer. They watched with awe as two bulls fought for hierarchy, violently snorting and locking horns. Meanwhile, Chris and the officer never exchanged a word. They just got back in their cars and continued patrolling their respective territories.
So, we don’t have suitable plumbing, an easy way to cook, or reliable deliveries or service providers. What we do have is a way of being privy to the inside life of Mother Nature. When you live with her every day, you begin to see what you couldn’t see before.
I wonder what will be next.
P.S. Collective nouns for animal groups made possible by the Book of Saint Albans.