Backwoods Journal Part three

Photograph: Kenneth A. McMillan

Photograph: Kenneth A. McMillan

One of the first things we built after moving into the house was our outhouse.  We hand dug the hole and then built with rough cedar boards over it an outhouse we were proud of.  It had a handmade door handle, curtained window, a mirror, books to read and usually a flower on the window sill.

Every day was filled to the brim with building, finishing, clearing, and always the lugging of water in from the well, heating it on the temperamental wood stove and the perpetual feeding of that wood stove to try to keep warm.

It was all a challenge but also an adventure in figuring out how to survive with just the basics.  Bath time meant bringing in buckets of water and heating it on the wood stove and then standing behind a makeshift curtain while bathing in an old washtub.  Washing our hair took teamwork as one bent over the sink while clean warm water was poured over sudsy locks.

Laundry day was an all day project.  We’d be decked out in shorts and gum boots and take turns lugging cold water to the wood stove, hot water to the washtub, scrubbing on the washboard, turning the crank on the wringers and hanging the clean clothes out on the line strung between two huge fir trees, if it was sunny out.  On rainy days we had clothes strung all over the house and all the windows fogged up with the steamy humid air.  We had no trouble falling asleep on laundry nights, with the scent of fresh wind-blown sheets covering our tiredness.

Photographs: Kenneth A. McMillan

Photographs: Kenneth A. McMillan

1977 Maria pumping water

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