I just returned from a time capsule journey to visit my brother at Forest Grove, in the Cariboo District of BC. Nothing has changed at his place over the past umpteen years. Not the wood stove and heater; nor the water buckets; nor the tilted outdoor toilet. Jack and I reviewed tales and experiences almost constantly over 4 full days of conversation. Strangely as we chatted, memories flowed and I actually recalled many names and faces from the distant past.
This is a guy who’s had 2 major heart attacks – has a defibrillator/pacemaker in his chest. Has bouts of angina and breathlessness. He cuts trees and splits wood, hauls water, drives rickety vehicles which he has to repair along with other rickety machinery. One doctor told him all that work’s what’s keeping him alive. (He’s made it to 74 from first heart attack at age 57)
As for me, the one thing I definitely DO NOT miss is having to use an outdoor toilet! (Although environmentalists insist that’s the best way to go.) I wrote the following poem when we moved to a cabin on the north shore of Fraser Lake in about 1972.
Behind the old house ‘cross the road,
Reminding me of dreams of old,
Father built it in the fall,
Of ’49 if I recall,
To replace the one before,
This one was new except the door.
A high seat with a great big hole,
A small one for the children’s goal,
A thoroughfare throughout the years,
Upon the path no grass appeared,
As bare feet, shoes and winter boots,
Pounded on the grasses’ roots.
Tall grass now obscures the way,
To the outhouse in the hay,
Weather-beaten in the breeze,
Tilting eastward ‘neath the trees.
Nostalgia grips me close to tears,
As I think back to childhood years.
The Eaton’s wish-book on the wall,
Alternating Spring and Fall,
Dog-eared from the season past,
Still good reading while it lasts,
A good place on a summer’s eve,
To dream, rejoice or sometimes grieve.
Modern plumbing, ‘lectric lights,
No more flashlights in the night,
Hurrying, weaving, stumbling child,
His urgency long since reviled:
“Must you wait on Winter’s night,
‘Til bowels are screaming in their plight!”
A horn is honking, I must go,
My reverie is gone I know,
The past is gone as we drive forth,
Our home and family are up North.
As we drive back throughout the night,
I think upon our present plight.
We bought some land, a cabin too,
It’s near the lake, a gorgeous view,
There’s room to breathe, the air is clear,
But one thing’s wrong – no plumbing here.
Our outhouse now is new and strong,
But we, I hope, won’t need it long.