Chop wood, carry water, watch TV

Chop wood, carry water, watch TV (Excerpt)

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach…” from Walden, Henry David Thoreau, 1854

I went to the woods of Pender Island because I wished to leave the city deliberately, to front the empty page and to see if I could not look at my watch.

In case you’ve been holed up in the woods somewhere for 150 years, Thoreau is that famous writer-cum-philosopher who made living in the country sound like a romantic’s wet dream, a man, it should be pointed out, who, whilst waxing poetic about the timber of Massachusetts, was supported from the avails of a pencil factory. It is thanks to him and his transcendental ilk that hapless cityfolk like me leave our urban “dystopias” annually for what we hope will be a paradisical stay in the country only to discover we are Thoreau-ly deluded.

My holiday begins in the parking lot at BC Ferries, where the Pender cars, with their hanging fenders, cracked windshields, home paint jobs and hemp-bedecked inhabitants, hint at the self-made laid-back backwoods venture in store. As the ferry pulls further and further away from the “big” island, I feel a growing reverence for tall cedars and intact ecosystems, for the fugginess of a rustic cabin, for the small creatures of the woods. (I don’t yet know about cabin mice.)

I arrive at the cabin, already mellow. It’s freezing inside and full of mice turds. […]

Source: Focus Magazine, Vol. 16 No. 8, May 2004