At the moment we have run out of the giant bottles of calor gas which heat our water. We have them delivered to the edge of the wood, then have to maneouvre them in along the little path into our clearing. As we are about to move, it was generally deemed not worth dragging a new bottle in, and as I am generally keen to reduce our reliance on non renewable fuels anyway, I was quite happy to do without. Now, I keep a huge cauldron of water on the woodburner and dole it out like a miser in giant tin cups. We have all experienced the joys of 'the splash bath' (standing in the shower and pouring tin mugs of water around) and I feel as if I have a new child to tend to, as I nurse the woodburner to just the right temperature and plan water use, monitoring how much has been used for hand washing so I can still do the washing up later on.
Strangely, rather than cursing the lack of easy quick hot water, I have felt more grateful for the water we do have. It feels more like the precious resource it is rather than an expendable commodity. The time I spend fussing over it builds my relationship with it; connects me with it, and I don't take it for granted. The sentiment is spreading....one of my children just asked me what he could do with last night's hot water bottle water, as it seemed wasteful to just chuck it away. Scarcity of resources engenders reverence and care, well it should, though we could learn a thing or two about oil.
We all loved our tin baths! (the adults had theirs indoors by candlelight)
In tandem with our appreciation for a precious resource, and a greater connection with water, I did also realise what tough, time consuming labour it is, not having running water. In my time at the yurt, I found it hard to find time to write much, or have any personal creative time, and large parts of my day were spent kneeling by nappy buckets, sluicing and scrubbing! I felt connected by invisible threads to women all around the world who do expend huge amounts of energy fetching and carrying water and scrubbing things, babies, dishes, clothes....In fact I felt connected to everything, the water, the clothes, my sore hands, my knees on the hard ground. I was aware. It wasn't a bad feeling.
The problem is my life is too fast. I felt as if I was living in the 19th century at the yurt whilst still trying to maintain 21st century speed in all other areas of my life. Trying to maintain the two in parallel was exhausting.
What am I trying to say? I'm not really sure! A large bit of me longs to live simply and sparsely, paring down the dashing, accumulating, achieving parts of my life to spend time calmly creating what I need, with my own hands. Clean clothes, delicious food, toys for the children, knitwear, medicine, candles, toiletries......art work, crafts. My labour and time, not money or a switch. The problem is that I do try to do all this, but also dash around and put pressure on myself to achieve as well. Two life styles in opposition?
I do know that doing without a so called 'necessity' such as electricity or running water can bring me down to earth with a big flash of realisation about just how disconnected we have all become from what is real in our lives. The easier and quicker tasks are to achieve, the less I engage with them and the more I try to cram in. I don't have to use my ingenuity and creativity to work out how to do something or develop a system to cope with a difficult task.
The work involved to fill the gap left when I can't just flick a switch does help me to slowly slowly think about radical changes that I can make towards simplifying and enriching my life.
Times are changing for us.
How about you, do you find satisfaction from doing without? Do you become more creative and have fun from making do?