As so many of you seem to be enjoying the photos of our time in the wilderness disconnected from the grid and without a house, I will continue sharing some of our adventures next week – briefly now, I want to pop back into science fiction mode and tell you how living in the wilderness helped me to write better science fiction, and also tell you that it was there – living rough – that The Khekarian Series was born (also includes more photos – the odds and ends).
The original story was concocted way back in my youth, not even a shadow of what it would become. It was playing around with that story in its many forms for many years, so it was with those characters that I honed my skills and came to know them so well.
Above, that’s me standing in some spear grass.
When we moved into the wilderness, though, something different happened. First of all, I was plunged into what I call human-silence. Television and radio disappeared from my life overnight (later we bought a video player and began stocking up on movies to watch in the evening, but my days continued in silence).
We also had no phone. We could get reception if we climbed the ladder (above) and held the phone up in the air above the caravan, but not always, and we were at that point at the highest peak on the block. That made the phone pretty much useless and we very quickly gave up on it. That also meant no Internet connection.
Greg worked in the city about 100 kilometres away (over 60 miles), and as he needed to be there early, he left the block before the sun rose and did not get home until after dark. In effect, that isolated me. When I tell you I was cut off from civilization, I mean I was really cut off – me more so than Greg. I would get to go into town once every three to six months, and quickly found it unbearable for noise and people and traffic. I got used to isolation and the sounds of nature.
I took charge of all the workings of the block from the very start, meaning pumping water from the creeks and making sure we had enough when the creeks dried up for six months of the year; generating electricity and keeping the batteries charged to see to our needs; making mud bricks (we were hoping to build a house one day); washing laundry by hand and getting rid of the sewage, which meant digging new holes.
I was absolutely pioneering, modern-style. I lived like that for years. I got a feel for what new colonies on raw planets might be like and how “alien” an environment might feel. Best of all was coming to grips with everything I personally needed to do to provide what I had always taken for granted. Water. Electricity. Sewage.
Hey, but we had some luxuries (below) – our version of a portable toilet. :D
Many of us are so used to society and its structure to do it all for us. You pay your bills and you can turn on a tap, flick a switch or flush. Doing without any one of those things is a huge inconvenience, try all gone at once and you’ll really know about it.
One of the nicest compliments paid to me came after we had live “wild” for more than three years. We had gone into the nearest country town and in the course of our conversation with a shop owner, mentioned where we lived. He commented that he didn’t think there were any houses out that way and when we told him that there weren’t, he asked how long we’d lived there.
His jaw dropped when we told him it was over three years. He looked us both up and down and exclaimed. “My God, you don’t look feral!” I loved his words – because I kept our clothes clean, we washed frequently and kept our hair clean and (relatively) neat.
Anyhow – now I’m waffling – the point I was trying to raise is that through genuine modern pioneering, I got closer to my science fiction story and history than I ever could have done without that experience. The Khekarian story became the Khekarian Series and the depth and richness of the characters and the worlds really began to develop.
Have a great weekend, everybody. :D