This summer I spent June and July living in a lovely rustic house without electricity or running water. Meeting the basic needs (and I really mean basic needs here–going to the bathroom, bathing, and eating, for example) we tend to take for granted became much more of a task. I walked to the well to gather pots full of my cooking and cleaning water every other day, I hung a shower bag from the eaves of the house outside to shower, and I had the lovely experience of using a 3-sided outhouse daily (when I had to pee, I just went in random spots in the grasses and bushes around the house–a quicker process that yielded fewer bugbites).
Despite the definite challenges of living that way while working regular hours during the day, I met these challenges during the two easiest months of the year to live this rustic life. I did not have to keep the woodstove going for heat (though it was a welcome treat on many raw mornings and evenings) and I had access to a hot shower, good drinking water, and laundry facilities just a 10 minute drive away. I had it easy. Every time I made the couple minute walk to the outhouse and sat pondering that particular spot, however, I could not help but think of the people before me who lived in that place year-round. Surely they kept the toilet seat inside so they could carry it warm to the snow-filled throne when they needed it? I hoped so. The view was lovely from that spot, in any case.
While Labor Day inspires reflection on our working history, I tend to cogitate on the laborious aspects of simply living without running water or electricity year-round as so many people have done (and still do) throughout our history. That reality matched with a harrowing day job? A laborious living indeed.