Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cabin Life: People Here Look Out For Each Other

A rusty screen door in the wind. That was the sound I heard earlier outside. But the sound was coming from the woods, far from any door, or even any human-built structure. I wondered what it was, but the big MagLite didn’t provide any insight, and the most likely culprit was some tree creaking in the breeze.

The snow has started again, and it looks like the next couple of days will be spent shoveling and digging out. I really don’t mind. It’s good exercise, outside, with tangible benefits. I’ve always loved running the snow-blower and driving a plow truck, and shoveling is something that I’ve gained a renewed appreciation for.

Two storms ago, I shoveled an area big enough to park a few cars in. The plow guy was impressed, and that’s a pretty big compliment. One thing that I’ve always loved about living in the Adirondacks is that people come together when they really need to. When there’s no emergency or major event going on, I’m sure that neighbors have their regular squabbles, but when the fit hits the shan, people here look out for each other.

A few weeks ago, my plow guy got stuck in the driveway and it took us a while to dig out his truck. The next plow was on him as thanks. The time after that, we had a big storm, and he hadn’t heard from me, so he came up to plow the driveway and make sure I wasn’t stuck in here. He said he was glad when he didn’t see my truck. It was the same thing last spring. There were massive floods all over the North Country and my first three days of work were spent filling sand bags. We dropped them off all over town, to the city hall, motels along the lake, and at people’s houses. Most of the day, it was just a bunch of us state workers who had gotten corralled into the job. But soon after school got out each day, a stream of parents and kids would come into the town garage and ask what needed to be done. They brought us food and coffee, as well as fresh hands and arms. Filling, tying and loading a couple hundred thousand sand bags gets tiring.

But you know what, it’s not just in times of hardship that the people come together up here. Winter Carnival is one of the greatest parties you could imagine. An entire town celebrating the successful fight against cabin fever with a parade, concerts, and yes, even a Women’s Frying Pan Toss. Carnival is great.

The feeling this type of camaraderie creates is one of belonging to a community. Whatever their petty differences, people do what they can to help each other out, and in the process forget about the nonsense that most of us consume our lives with. If I had a neighbor and heard a creaky door sound day after day, I’d probably get upset after a while, and would eventually sneak over there and hit the hinges with WD-40. But since the sound was coming from a tree, I’ll just let it go. Having such a simple existence in this cabin has made letting the stupid things go a lot easier.

Justin Levine is living off the grid in a cabin in the Adirondacks with his dog Pico and blogging at Middle of the Trail.

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Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.


2 Responses

  1. ADK-Rich says:

    It was very much to my surprise when on Jan 3rd at 7:30 AM that I heard a knock at the door at my remote off grid isolated cabin. “I need a jump,” she hollared at the door when I saw no car around. “I’m so glad you are here and didn’t know if you would be here.” “I walked up here to see if you could help me, my battery is dead.” After getting out of my sleeping clothes and driving about 1/3 mile down the road, there it was dead in their weekend cabin driveway. Her, her daugther and dog were staying after the Christmas Holiday week and packed up ready to head back to NJ. They had cables and it started quickly. And for thank a six-pack of beer. Boy, ya never know what can happen here in the North Country. I will never forget it.

  2. debstamp says:

    This was a sincere and beautifully written reminder of the basic goodness of folks. The Adirondacks seems to bring it out a bit more often.

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