The outhouse without walls has not been pushed over by bears and, in the unlikely event that vandals invade Gustavus, they won't be able to find it anyway. I painted it red so visitors who drank too much could find it when they wander back in the woods for a visit. It may be the most photographed potty in the western hemisphere. If you are wondering about the lack of walls, we wanted to be on the lookout for bears. I even thought of having a couple of rear-view mirrors from some wrecked cars installed but never did. Believe it or not, an outhouse in the middle of ten acres of woods is the best of many options for dealing with waste. People who have installed Clivus-Multrim or other ecologically recommended systems here have often had to heat them and keep little fans running to keep them operating. I keep a porta-potty in the cabin for bear-seige events.
My friend Jim Mackovjiak invited me to fish with him so I didn't even launch the skiff this year. Due to his largess I came home with 25 pounds of halibut all frozen and shrink wrapped by Pep's Packing. At around twenty bucks a pound at the local markets it's gold.
There is a small Saturday market outside the Sunnyside Store where people sell local crafts, art, a few veggies and locally made cosmetics. I parked the Cabella's folding chair Narda bought for me out in the market and sold and signed more than a dozen copies of Kolea. The chair is equipped with what I'd call a fold out beer table and the store sells lattes and hot soup and sandwiches, so I was having a pretty good afternoon shooting the bull with all the aging hippies and buddies I have known for going on five decades.
It happens that there is a writer's group in Gustavus. I think my novel is at least the twentieth book published by Gustavus authors. People get together once a week for coffee and read and criticize each others work, The attendees vary from a seventeen year old young woman who writes very good poetry to some of us over seventy who have written novels, memoirs and other works.
There are also music groups. The library bought a bunch of ukuleles and people gather for strumming on a weekly basis. There is also a music night at the library. You have probably not experienced music played by guitars, both acoustic and electric, mandolins, saxophones, flutes, violins and whatever anyone else plays, executed by folks with varied amounts of skill, all at the same time. When solo time comes around, a mandolin accompanied old English folk song, performed by a matronly lady, may be followed by some hard licks on an electric guitar pumped out by an under twenty guy. Somebody usually has some kind of drum.
The music stuff reminds me of the odd phenomenon one finds in remote places. In the bush, people of really varied backgrounds share recreation and other social happenings. The national profile of divisiveness has modified that for the worse, but when we had a forest fire a few years ago, people who get their politics from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News were shoulder to shoulder with Vegans and those who get their politics from Mother Jones. There is a friend of mine who is very conservative. If I have a heart attack, I expect it will be her, a volunteer EMT on the fire department that does the most to keep me alive. Looking at the current national political silliness, I think about the bumper sticker I saw: Less Barking, More Wagging. Maybe Less Shouting and More Strumming.