Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Little Houses and Lasting Partnerships

The Bunkhouse Orchestra has a song about the "little house that stands among the trees" and they are not talking about a cottage.

We have built, restored and reholed many an outhouse over the years. I have great respect for a good outhouse and there are definitely times when two holes are better than one. Some of my favorites are the two holers that have a regular size hole for grown-ups and a stepped down hole for the kids.

When the 1,000 year flood came in 1997, we lassoed the privy at Corral Creek and tied it off to a tree. It survived, upright in the raging floodwaters, riding the waves like some kind of ark.

At Horse Creek our centennial one-holer is made out of hand split tamarack planks and square nails which date to a hundred years ago. It was in pieces when we found it. Mike carefully dismantled them and is now restoring it to a place of honor just up the hill from the ranch house.

The old farmhouse we live in has both an indoor flush version and an outdoor one-holer. We tell guests that when they stay in the bunkhouse it comes with its own privy. In fact, it has a dutch door so you can enjoy your privacy and the view of the mountains at the same time.

Indoors, the flush facility has its own character. It is lilac. Lilac sink, lilac tub and yes, lilac toilet. This was Hattie Freudenberg's house and purple was her favorite color. In June, the toilet perfectly matches the immense hedge of lilacs blooming all along the front of the yard.

Mike spent quite a bit of his 4th of July holiday removing and refurbishing said toilet. After seventy years you can expect a piece of plumbing to have a few issues. Which reminds me how thankful I am for lasting partnerships and division of labor. While I have fixed many a toilet, I'd much rather spend my time making a pie for him to enjoy when he is done with the plumbing job. It is not likely we'll find another lilac toilet, so we are trying to make this one last. But we'll always have the little house out back, just in case.

Ode to the Privy

Four walls and a door, with a roof overhead
one hole or two, not much more than a shed
but you never freeze shut, you never break down
a sure sign that we are not living in town.
O outhouse dear outhouse you welcome us in
when wind rattles by and rain hits the tin
so we'll sweep out the spiders and shovel your snow
because whenever we need you, you're ready to go.