Yesterday morning, I woke up in winter wonder land. There was a fine silvery coat of snow on everything when I burst out of the hut at 9 in the morning, after one quick peek out the window. I love snow, especially in the woods. It was absolutely gorgeous, and almost made the cold worthwhile. Before long, the sun came up, and the snow melted away. I’m sure there will be more. I did manage to build a small snow ET using snow off of the food tent roof…
I spent the rest of the day working on the front windows. It’s a traditional looking two-pane window, with a wooden frame, and fills up most of the right half of the front of the hut. Now that the window is there, my hut basically looks like a platonic house; the kind that I used to draw in kindergarden. Pitched roof, a door, a window. I guess all I need now is a chimney.
As good as it looks from the outside, it didn’t take me long to realize my mistake. The plexiglas I use for my windows provide less insulation than plywood. Which means I actually managed to make my hut less insulated than before. I tried to make up for it by putting up bubble-wrap and mylar on sections of the interior, but I’m not sure it really makes a difference. Mylar reflects radiant heat, but I’m losing most of my heat to conduction, and I don’t think mylar prevents conductive heat loss.
Since today was my last full day here (assuming I actually manage to get out tomorrow), I did a bunch of small tasks to finish up the hut. The first was to build a table-type thing under the window, so I can put my stove on an elevated surface. With the stove there, it made sense to hammer in a couple of nails on the wall to hang my pots and skillet. Then it made sense to line up my spices on the windowsill too, and with the oil lamp that was already there, that corner suddenly looked really homely.
Another minor task I did today was to frame the door. To be honest, this was almost entirely cosmetic, though, it does help seal the door somewhat. I also put in some molding (I think that’s what they’re called –pieces of wood that go where the walls and floor meet), and stapled roofing paper all around the hut, to cover up the “foundation.” The exterior has remained surprisingly dry through the last week of rain and snow, but I think that’s mostly because it hasn’t been very windy. Hopefully the tar paper skirt will help keep things relatively dry.
Tomorrow, I’m packing up camp, and heading out. I’m working under the assumption that I might not come back until Spring. I do hope I can come back for a couple of short stays in between, but it’s going to start snowing for real soon, and the roads might get a little too treacherous for the little Ryomobile.
To be honest, I’m ready to get out of here. That’s not to say that I’m unhappy with the state of the hut, or my camp. I’ve managed to stay on my property well into November, and have stayed relatively comfortable despite rain, snow, and freezing temperatures. If I hadn’t built this hut, this past week would’ve been unbearable. And I’m rather proud of the fact that I’ve broken my endurance record despite the weather; I came here Tuesday the 3rd, and will be leaving on the 14th, which means I will have spent 11 nights here. My previous longest continuous stay was 6 or 7 nights, and that was when it was much warmer too.
The reality, though, is that life’s not quite comfortable enough here yet to be able to stay indefinitely. For me to stay longer, I’d need more/better heating in the hut. I’d also need to figure out a way to bathe, even when there isn’t enough sun to warm up my solar shower (probably a gas powered shower will do). I’ve also been having issues keeping my laptop charged/running, though I mostly only use it to play music.
And, I’ll admit, I miss civilization, and its creature comforts; the warm showers, the warm beds, being able to get up at night to pee without freezing. I also miss my friends. I miss the feeling of being connected, to people and to the world.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about solitude, and my isolation. It’s clear to me that I’m not a true hermit. No doubt, I’m introverted, and I enjoy solitude and isolation. In fact, I need it. But I miss the touch, the embrace, the smile, the voice of a loved one. It’s the kind of warmth that is lacking out here, no matter how warm my hut may be. I realized that as the days went by, I spent more and more time thinking about people I care about, and thinking about time I’ve spent with them.
Over the last two weeks, I found that while I set out to build a hut, a temporary shelter, I was actually building myself a home. I’m almost there. In the sense that this is a place I can always return to, this is a home. It may be the only home in the world that I have. But there’s another kind of home; a home that you share with someone you love, regardless of its physical shape, form or location. That is the home I need to seek now, now that I have a place that I can call home.