Phillis Gershator

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Samplings from a New Jersey journal:

April Fools Day. Cabin No. 13.
Is the joke on us?
David says if we can make it through to April 7, a lucky number and just one week away, we can make it through the summer. It’s 45 degrees out. I hope the kids will be warm enough.

It’s raining again.The roof leaks. The cabin stinks from the wood stove. Rick and Hazel stop by and suggest incense. Rick says fight fire with fire, smoke with smoke.

This is the week of the meat boycott. I want to join, even in our isolation, in the kind of protest that reflects consumer anger, that makes us more than passive shoppers. So here we sit in our little cabin in the woods, eating super simply, especially since I haven’t yet figured out how to cook on the wood stove without creating even more smoke. Eggs, beans, fruit, vegetables.

The old German socialists [Nature Friends] who came here before the war made trails and built summer houses. More Germans settled here after the war. Hard workers with practical trades. With all the German accents and wood choppers around it gets to feeling like the Black Forest--or one of the Show of Show’s automated people clocks. Chop, turn, step, turn, chop, all at the appointed hour. I feel like one of them too, doing all my survival chores.

The kids are getting into their own camp style routine now, running to the outhouse, washing up at a communal faucet, happily racing down the forest path to meet their new friends and catch the school bus. I had a taste of that old-time country life too as a kid, un-spoiled open spaces and unpolluted skies, when I lived in my grandfather’s old wooden farm house in Jeffersonville. We lugged well water, used a wood stove, and made do with an outhouse. We washed up in a portable tub and decorated the ceilings with fly paper.

We had no farm animals, but the family down the road had a working farm. Good, kind people. Their kids didn’t want to stay down on the farm though. When the couple got too old to handle the work alone, the farm was sold. So was my grandfather’s house. A passing era, and, for some reason, I seem to be reliving it. I wonder, is Eric Berne right about life scripts?

How I cried when I was 7 and we left the East coast! I wonder, will our kids cry when we leave this cabin in the woods? What we see as hardships and deprivations have been an adventure for them. David marvels how much we can get along without. This stripped down way of life is settling. Do thoughts of consuming and possessing increase proportionately to the amount of consuming and possessing going on? We’re getting down to the basics. I’m wearing Indian mocassins. For now, I don’t think I can get much closer to nature.

Food--I’m getting a terrible craving for meat. Even though the boycott is over, I feel guilty about buying it. Meatless week was more successful than I thought it would be. Sales were way down all over the country. People can get together on an issue. It’s depressing though--what happened to those people when McGovern ran for president? Is the price of meat more important than war?