Day 7 at Fowler Dune Shack - Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 7

The shack is ice cold this morning.

Temperatures dropped down overnight into the 30’s…The thought of unzipping my sleeping bag is nearly impossible, but I force myself. It’s my last full day here.

Surprised by how quickly I’m able to start a healthy fire, especially while shivering.

This is the survival part of this experience. It shouldn’t come as a surprise; we are approaching early winter after all.

By noon the shack is toasty. Well, the room with the wood burning stove in it is toasty – I have the door to the bedroom closed to concentrate the warm air. I’m confined to this space all day and must constantly look after the fire. It’s probably in the 40’s now and sunny, but too windy for hiking or a run.

And yet, this is still paradise. I’m surrounded by great books, my sketch pads, and the shack journals with entries from past residents. I read about their experiences. Most are similar to mine. We fill our days the same way, with long walks and hours spent reading. We delight in the challenge of cooking in this primitive kitchen. Artists come here with canvases aplenty and preplanned subject matter, only to find they do everything but paint. Writers abandon their novels, opting instead to write about the way the blades of dune grass carve perfect circles around themselves in the sand when it’s windy, like nature’s compass. The environment here has other plans for you.

All you can do is observe and absorb, pray, listen. Look and watch for minutes on end. I think this is living in the moment.

I came here to press reset. A friend back home told me he thought I was thinking too much and not feeling enough.

When I arrived here my thoughts were focused on what I am doing, now I’m left wondering what am I doing?

The shack is a beautiful living thing. I am absolutely transfixed by the way the environment has chipped its paint and splintered its wood. The way the salt and moisture rich air has rusted and oxidized every metallic part of itself. How the copious sand grains have etched into the turquoise painted floor to make it resemble an actual piece of turquoise. Then I think of the way a New York City interior designer would try to achieve this effect, stupidly and foolishly, with expensive processes. Just let nature and time do it. It makes me think about our own bodies. Is it a coincidence that as we get older we find ourselves rising with the sun? That our hair silvers, the way a cedar shingle on this shack does. We do everything we can to try and make ourselves think we aren’t human sometimes. We fight the tide. It is beautiful to be human, and when we try to fight this, it makes fools of us.

You could say that the environment here takes its toll, that the elements force things to age faster. But maybe they are just living sooner.