Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The cabin

Excuse me for a minute. Hmmm. I am writing this blog from my kitchen table and some kind of vermin has landed on my roof and proceeded to crawl into my stove vent. It sounds like it is about the size of a badger, but I don’t think there are badgers here. I actually have no idea what this animal might be. So far, I’ve only seen a moose and a giant bird that looks like a chickadee on steroids, which may or may not be a Canada Jay, according to my high school science teacher Ferris (phone diagnosis). Well, the flying badger has stopped tap-dancing in my stove vent and has apparently settled down for a nap.

Let me tell you about my cabin. First, it’s hard for people from the Outside to understand cabin-living. Most young and/or poor people in the Interior live in cabins. Permafrost conditions and extreme cold make plumbing very expensive to build and maintain. So people live in these cabins with no plumbing. I have an outhouse about 40 feet behind my cabin, connected to a shower room which is fed by raising a bucket of water up a tree on a pulley. I can get my water from one of two sources: one is at a pumphouse in Fairbanks that is polluted by mine tailings; the second is at a spring in the nearby settlement of Fox, which is more pristine. I haven’t yet found the time to go to Fox, so I’ve been using the polluted Fairbanks water for washing and purchased drinking water at Fred’s, which was shipped here from Cincinatti. (?)

I would be lying if I told you that running out to the outhouse at -30 F is fun. But apparently it increases my chances of seeing the aurora borealis. And nighttime wildlife. Last night, a midnight run let me hear a couple wolves howling in the spruce bog that is my backyard. The drinking/cooking/washing water is relatively easy to manage. I bought four of these 7 gallon jugs that have spouts on them and it costs only a quarter to fill these up at the pumphouse. This morning I washed my hair in a bucket in my kitchen, but during the week I can easily use the showers at my lab. In the summer, I think the tree-bucket shower will work just fine.

The cabin is brand new and quite nice. The heat is oil-burning and plenty warm enough. There are two bedrooms, so I use one for a study, and a large kitchen/dinning area. Pictures of the outside are posted on my Flicker site. I’ll post some of the inside when I get unpacked and settled. On the side of the cabin is a carport. But when my landlord built the place, he put the power outlet near the front of the house, so to plug in my engine block heater I can’t actually park under the car port until I get a long extension cord. My landlord is quite a character. His name is Greg. In addition to building and managing half a dozen cabins, he’s also a pilot, and a mountaineer. He’s a sweet guy, but I would describe him as having a few bats in the bellfry. And possibly a badger.

1 comment:

Alison Spodek said...

How's this for an update from the other side of the world-- I was recently in a bedouin tent, and one of Israel's many wild/feral/totally gross cats jumped on the roof. We spent a good ten minutes watching its weight distort the cloth on the ceiling, till it too settled down for a nap. Sort of like a non-badger badger? :)