Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Hanging at the Rockford Public Library because (a) it's raining, I can't mow, and (b) I still don't have any electricity at home. Power has been out since Saturday morning. This is the longest I've gone without electricity ever. Last night I drove to the Walgreen's near my place and they were out of 'D' size batteries. Drive to Loves Park, where they never lost power, and the Walgreens there is fully stocked. We are one of the last 2,000 or so customers still without. The street light across the street works fine. Neighbors on the next block have power.

The adjustment process has not been that difficult, what with our nature freak tendencies. The home has been quieter (that is, until last night, when the aforementioned D batteries were placed in our boombox). Monday and Tuesday night we slept in my parent's basement. Last night we stayed at home because the latest round of storms (which kept me from working all of yesterday) brought in a cool front.

I was able to mow one lawn this morning before the latest purple gray clouds of booming thunder precipitation rolled in. I finished while the drops fell and the mower threw out clumps of wet grass. After this I think I'll go to my parent's, sharpen the mower blade and change the oil. I've also got to call my customers and let them know I'll take care of their lawn ASAP.

Esther and I went on our first overnight canoe trip together into the Sylvania Wilderness. Not much different from a backpacking excursion. Easier. Instead of slugging a pack on your back while in motion you glide across the water, using your upper body to row. Portages are more like what I'm used to. Poor Esther got a bruise on top of her head from carrying the canoe. She also got bruised on her thigh and inside her arm. That woman bruises if you look at her funny.

I've professed my love for sphagnum moss great northwoods, and imagine myself living there in the peace and solitude. I imagine Yooperland to be a safe retreat, but wonder if I could live there full-time without going stir crazy. Friday morning we stopped at the one cafe in Watersmeet, right at the intersection of Hwys. 2 and 45, and overheard a group of locals talking. One old man in a Lion's Club hat sat stooped, silent sentinel, while the others talked about fishing, fireworks, and each, individually, commented on the waitress changing her hair color. Sounds quaint and homey. But I could not imagine myself day after day, year after year, talking about walleyes, ATV's, snowfall in inches, and all the other seemingly routine vagaries of northwoods life. I'd end up being the high-falutin' outsider college boy dumbass that the old men whisper about when I walk through the door. The north can be a lonely, desolate place. I got a hint of that in Antigo, though it is a friendlier community.

I imagine myself living in an urban setting and escaping to a cabin up north for a season or a weekend. Such a settled image seems far away, though. A more realistic imagination would be to squat a season in the national forests, two weeks at a time in any one spot, leaving a minimal trace, fishing and maybe even killing small game. Ah, who am I kidding? Natural Man is really a city boy at heart. I've never killed any other animal besides a fish for food.

My time is ending at the library. I'll go home now and see if I'm still living off the grid. The only inconvenience so far has been the pinching of my headlamp on my forehead when reading in bed at night. I've got nothing to bitch about.

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