Out here in Reliance we have most definitely moved from late summer to autumn, the chilly grey mornings slowly brightening to show the decks and rocks slick with lightly frozen dew.
The leaves of the birch and willow are golden yellow, with the alder lagging behind, still green. This is the time of year to go slow outdoors as icy danger lurks on every surface. The lively confident gait of summer has changed to a careful step. I’ve fallen a few times in years past on the slippery rocks and every single time, I get hurt, unlike falling in the soft snow. It’s always good to have a little fear and respect when facing Mother Nature in any of her manifestations, and so my measured steps become a pilgrim’s journey of awareness.
Thinking about going outdoors to work, I carefully consider which footwear to put on. Packed away now are summer sandals and hiking shoes. Soft rubber boots generally give the best grip and so tall heavy duty Muckboots easily translate from summer to fall. We spend a lot of time in and out of the boat on rugged beaches going wood cutting these days and with my old soft shell winter pants, I am water proof from the knees down. We happen to have a surplus of heavy duty sand paper, and I am thinking about simply Gooping some on to the bottom of my rubber boots for better grip. It might work and necessity is the mother of invention. The sand paper should wear off in a few months, which would be just perfect as I will be switching into Camuks winter mukluks right about then.
I remember when I first came to Reliance I would try and layer up all sorts of fun and colourful jacket/sweater/scarf/work pants/boots combinations when going out on our wood cutting forays. Much more pragmatic as I enter my eighth winter in the bush, I now choose an old cotton sweatshirt with a thin wool sweater under and my original stretchy snow pants bought a Weaver and Devore in 2008. With lots of small holes melted from camp fires past patched with duct tape and a very well worn look, I find the comfort and assurance of wearing tried and true old clothes more enticing than new shiny gear with no track record.
All those years I lived south, I was a throw-away person; the social guilt of being such a voracious consumer off-set by the ease and fun of purchasing new clothes and household items. Nowadays I have had a total change of mind, from a perspective of endless worldly novelty and extensive variety to a life where it seems the only things that ever change are the weather conditions.
I have some minimalist friends whose goal is to simplify their living space by removing everything they have in access, right down to chucking out extra pencil erasers and doubles of anything. I think it is a great thing to live like that in town, where if you happen to really need something you’ve thrown out, a quick trip to the store to replace it is easy. The less wasteful consumerism the better I think.
Out here in the hinterlands of Canada, where the nearest access road to a store is a couple of hundred kilometres away, we have to be a bit more innovative. Like my minimalist friend, I dislike clutter and junk too. But my greater fear is to not have something I might need.
My answer is filled to the brim blue Rubbermaid tubs and a couple of outdoor sheds to store them. First of all, up here in the north, the blue Rubbermaid tubs are the only commonly available tubs that don’t shatter and break at minus 40C. Into them goes everything we are not regularly using or is only slightly broken or worn out. All packed neatly away until a need arises or the season changes. In a way, it is like having my own second-hand store I can peruse at will, the selection constantly changing as I move things in and out, the goal of perfect organization never quite attained.
I think my minimalist friend and I have the same purpose, to keep our lives as simple as possible so that we can focus on what is really important. Her in town, me in the bush. A simple decluttered home and life with room to think is a good goal, making room for all sorts of new exciting possibilities.