1. A person who has withdrawn from society and lives a solitary existence; a recluse.
Yesterday, we went out. We had to. Our refrigerator contained the following:
Ketchup; mustard (2 kinds); pickles (2 kinds); mayonnaise; jam (2 kinds); butter; Omega-3 buttery spread; lemons (2); taco sauce (the last of my favorite kind, from the States); pure maple syrup (also from the States); soy milk; grapefruit juice; two open cans of cat food (2 kinds); and the requisite open container of baking soda stashed in the back.
As some wise person once said: “Man cannot live on condiments alone. Or on cat food. Or on baking soda.”
Honestly? Had we had a grain of coffee or a crust of bread, we wouldn’t have left the house. It was the lack of coffee and bread that did it. We had no choice.
We had to put on pants.
It might sound like I’m being facetious, but I’m really not. Isolation is a by-product of working from home in the wilderness, and being isolated makes us feel like who cares if we’re dressed or not.
Aside from the occasional appointment, we only emerge into society when we run out of food. It’s an event. We fire up the truck and lumber down through the woods to our gate and out onto the private road, stop to take the wheels off of 4 x 4 drive mode, then rumble by the mailboxes, wind around two pastures, wave as we pass the bee-keeper guy’s place, until we finally come to the clearing where the dumpsters sit clustered to the left with the “CAMPING” area across from them on the right. It’s there that the little road joins perpendicularly with the main road, which is still a nameless, no-sidewalk country road, but at least it appears on a map (I think) and it leads somewhere: small villages and Grenoble to the right, more small villages (including the one that’s our address) and Romans-sur-Isère to the left. We usually go left and do our shopping in Romans.
We make this excursion maybe once every 7-10 days. We load up the truck with our trash so we can drop it in the dumpsters when we get out to the “CAMPING” area at the main road.
When it’s cold, we put off going anywhere as long as we can because the fire doesn’t usually stay alive untended (except at night, when Callaghan banks it), and it’s kind of unpleasant to come home to a dead fire in a cold house.
This is what makes me cringe with shame: Ma Ingalls would absolutely not approve of our current habits. We have no excuse! The Ingalls family got dressed every day, even when they didn’t have plans to go to town. Ma Ingalls always changed into day-time clothes, and she made sure that her girls did, too, regardless of anything. If there was a violent blizzard outside continuously howling during the longest, hardest winter ever known to humankind, there they’d be, the Ingallses, ensconced in the house fully-dressed, functional and ready for unannounced guests. (If there was ever a day Ma said, to hell with it, I’ll hang out in my nightgown, I missed that part, even though I’ve read the entire “Little House” series – which I have in my possession – backwards and forwards like 20 times since I was seven years old.)
So I’ve been thinking that it might be a good idea to take a cue from Ma and start approaching each day as if there was a little civilization right here in our own house. We could behave as if there was a world humming with human life outside our door, instead of just the woods… as if there was a chance someone might come along and drop in for a visit. (When you finally find us and make it onto our land, you can only go so far before you have to stop and walk the rest of the way up to our house, because the wooded path is steep and muddy and rocky, and if your vehicle’s not a 4 x 4, it’s not going to make it.)
Yes! Sounds like a plan, and it’ll serve us well, I think. Because you know things have slipped out of control when you’re suddenly aware that “Do we need to put on pants?” is the operating question every morning. Thanks for the inspiration, Ma! We’ll try to do you proud. And we’ll hope that if someone does come to visit, it’s not Nellie Olsen.