Friday, September 02, 2005

"They're spending their vacation in the woods with kerosene..."

-that's how one of Hal's coworkers described our yearly adventure in the woods. To each his or her own, but we really look forward to our time away from all the mediatisation and connectivity you have to deal with when you are "on the grid."

One fellow said that he couldn't imagine a day without television, as he grew up on that; it was his babysitter. A lot of my friends can't get over the no hot shower every day that we've all gotten accustomed to/societized into. To each his or her own, I guess. For us, it's just nice to not have constant accessibility (I don't own a cell phone, but email and the regular telephone make me easier to get a hold of than I like), to not have the constant hum of electricity about us, to have to work for some of what we take for granted in the city. "Being in the woods with kerosene" helps calm us down, make us more contemplative, sharpens our senses, makes us more liable to sit and talk things through, and helps the attention span.
I feel Iget so much more accomplished up there than I do here.

Disclaimer: the refrigerator is no longer a kerosene one, but electric. There is talk of getting another kerosene one from the Amish catalog, but they are rather pricey. We also use flashlights to get around in the dark.

Our main light source, however, is the Aladdin Lamp:

Aladdin lamps are pretty cool with their incandescent mantle made up of (I think) diatonaceous earth. When this gets a-glowing, it throws quite a lot of clean heat and light around. I actually prefer this to electric lighting - much less harsh.

Due to the nature of the technology, you have to start the lamps on a very low flame and warm them up. Often, we're wandering around a bit in the dark until the lamps are up to capacity. No matter, you do get used to it.

(Hal likes to play around with different lighting conditions - in the above image, he used a slow shutter speed and no flash to capture this image of me coming in from hauling water - yes, all of our water is brought in in buckets. Talk about an exercise in mindfulness! - I like the graininess of the image. It lends an impressionist feel.)

Julia manning the stove. That evening we had a nice little chicken stir fry over minute rice. The lamp is a Queen Anne, the stove (note the light from the burner below) is a Perfection. Perfections run on kerosene and are very clean-burning. Called "summer stoves" because they didn't throw off as much heat as wood stoves, they could be found in many "camps," like FDR's at Campobello. A really nifty feature on these is the little attachment (a box you place over one of the burners) in which you can bake a small cake or some muffins. I haven't actually baked anything on the Perfection yet, but it's on my list of things to try at some point.

While Julia cooks, Bob takes a moment out to ponder the Meaning of Life. Does this not look like a scene from a Bergman film?

After eating dinner and doing dishes, we usually head for the living room. Usually we sit and read or knit or work crossword puzzles by lamplight only. Sometimes, however, we need to kick up the heat a bit or burn some trash. On goes the fireplace, then:

After a couple days of driving rain, a lot needed to be dried out. Since we had no cats with us to lie in front of the fireplace, Julia's waterlogged slippers stood in quite nicely.


Nick said...

I love those low light colored effects... though I can't say I like the grainyness in the one. I do much prefer sharp... even if the idea is artsy.

Be said...

It was just an experimental shot - he likes playing around to see what the camera can do. You should see some of the gorgeous stuff he's ended up with photographing Christmas lights on houses, will-o-the-wisps in the fire, etc. Really neat.