Friday, February 4, 2011
Woodswoman-a Book Review
This nonfiction gem was written and published in 1976. No doubt things have changed up in those New York Mountains. Some for the good, some for the bad.
Anne LaBastille's honest and heart warming account of her initial struggles in locating her 22 acres on the Big Bear Lake, then building her cabin will inspire women. Doing most of the work and planning herself, when she needed muscle, she hired local men to give a hand. Full dimensions, details and sketches tell how and why she designed and built the cabin this way. The self sufficiency and low carbon footprint are amazing.
Setbacks included finding out she'd built too close to the shore, loosing a pet fox, a stormy short term relationship , and minor injuries.
She parked her old truck at the end of the lake, then boated or snowmobiled the last 1.5 miles to her home site.
Many black and white full page photos help us get acquainted with this ecologist who traveled to South America, finished her masters degree, and spent eight months in Washington D.C. on a special assignment.
Without electricity and using only propane, she still entertained over night guests in a sophisticated charm.
This is a good read for men and women alike. Women will find a special link when Anne overcomes the loneliness and challenges that are specific to our gender.
The last chapter I found particularly revealing. After her eight months in Washington D.C. she writes" Yet to be completely honest, my sojourn in the city had been profitable. I came home flushed with success, having done a good job, earned a handsome salary, and made excellent contacts. Although I knew that I could never stand to live in a city again, I also realized that a small connection with it had become necessary to bring a balance into my life...."
Her city experience was full of drama, including breaking up a dog fight and house sitting while friends went on vacation. She got a ticket for parking her truck on the street, although it was her personal vehicle. She was amazed at the danger that lurked in the neighborhood.
Sometimes we have to go through rough times to love what we have always. After here city adventure, she says" The cabin never had seemed so beautiful. I found my energy returning.....I slept well."
Not everyone is cut out for such rugged living. If you are one of them, you know. If you aren't, and only favor a visit occasionally, that's good too.
Anne LaBastille's descriptive writing of her wilderness surroundings are complete and detailed. We find a wide range of abilities in this remarkable story.