many of you may have caught on to this by now, but i am obsessed with survival skills. part of why i went to be a part of ruckus was because of the time we spend out camping.
it’s not easy for me to indulge this obsession – i came of age in nyc and developed a whole different set of survival instincts. also, i have bougie tendencies, i recognize it, and so does anyone who was with me on those ruckus camping experiences. but living off the land/going back to nature appeals to my post-apocalyptic revolutionary self, and i am slowly accumulating skills.
i read lots of science fiction, i live in detroit which feels as rural as it does urban most of the time, and i pay attention when i am around folks who could teach me something important, like how to start a fire, or how to compost in the city (even through the winter, which i just did), or how babies can be safely birthed without meds or hospitals, or how to dig a toilet.
so imagine my joy this past weekend when i went to spend a day with detroit summer at a cottage far off the beaten path outside the city, and there was no water! no toilet flushing water, no hand washing water, no dishwashing water. what to do? we had 10 youth in the cottage on the lake, which was totally frozen over (folks – not us – were driving on it later that night), we were surrounded by snow and the heat was working.
once we determined that we weren’t going to turn around and head home, we started thinking of creative solutions. within an hour we had come up with a system for managing the toilet – melting snow on the stove-top and using it to flush the toilet, not putting paper in the toilet unless it was a more significant contribution, and encouraging those who felt comfortable with it to actually go to the bathroom outside.
a neighbor, in the meantime, helped us to isolate the section of pipe that had frozen, and showed us how setting up a light bulb next to it would eventually resolve the issue. he also legitimized our strategy: “well, we got lots of snow – that’s how they used to do it!”
i was incredibly satisfied each time i flushed the toilet with melted snow water, and somewhat disappointed when the pipe was finally unfrozen and the water came back on. it wasn’t until later that i became aware of just how sparked i was by the challenge of applying survival skills in a way the youth could experience.
it also wasn’t until later that i realized how funny i must have looked, mixing my snow on the stove, self-assured that we would survive.
go ahead, laugh now.