Thursday, March 17, 2011

Outhouse with a view

Way back when I was a real little kid, the news spread pretty fast around Russell one week --- especially at First Baptist Church --- about the poor guy down southeast of town who, whilst parked in the family one-holer, got bit on the butt by a rat --- not only inconvenient but downright embarrassing.

That guy's trauma scarred me permanently and I've never been able to eye (or utilize) an outhouse since without thinking of Robert and getting a case of the shivers. But I'll admit that this one, along the trail southwest of town, would have a nice view --- were its door pointed out across the marsh in the opposite direction.

There are two of these along the first three-mile stretch of the Cinder Path, installed when it was built long ago on the old rail bed to Humeston, for the convenience of hikers, bikers and such. I don't think they're used much. It's never clear what you're going to be sharing an outhouse with under the best of circumstances, let alone out in the woods. I've never tried out either --- and don't plan to.

But it has been good walking weather here this week as the ground firms up and the temperature pushes 60 (a high of 70 is predicted today and it looks like we'll dodge the latest round of showers). Very little new growth is showing, so it's a good chance to assess the shape of things along the trail before everything is first misted and then engulfed by green.

I made a four-mile circuit on the path Tuesday and plan to head out elsewhere today but am not quite sure in which direction or when --- there are meetings and other things to consider.

Just walking has a lot of advantages (as does just sitting somewhere quiet and open if walking is a challenge). There always seems to be some kind of preoccupying agenda involved if you're running, riding or on a bike. But on a stroll, you can stop to consider the situation as often as you like, sometimes just to listen. You're not out to prove anything or get anywhere in particular and can focus on the ingredients rather than the blend, maybe try to figure out how the pieces around you are assembled --- and how you fit.

Heck, if we all walked a lot more and concentrated on the shape of things rather than how we can reshape them, maybe there'd be peace on earth.


Wanda Horn said...

The outhouse in your top photo is a "WPA toilet," the elite of the outhouse line. We had one on the farm where I grew up. These were built on a concrete slab, had only one seat (with lid), which sat at an angle inside the cubicle. A shaft behind the seat ran from the abyss below up to the point where it formed a "T" with a horizontal shaft that was vented to the outdoors. You can see one of the little vents in your photo. We moved from there about 1954, and that house did not have indoor plumbing for several years after that. An era now gone -- thank goodness!

Frank D. Myers said...

We had one of those, too, salvaged from the rural school just to the north that had gone out of business. I kid the current owner of our farm that she should try for National Register of Historic Places designation, since these buildings are (fortunately) endangered!