One Cabin, One Cat, Three Years



How this book came about.

For about as long as I have known Jeanne, she has wanted to spend an entire year—three hundred and sixty-five consecutive days—in the woods. This is not motivated by a desire to be a hermit or because she is antisocial.

#13. Finished cabin, December, 2014 - Copy
Finished cabin, December, 2014

To paraphrase Montaigne, she is quite content living a private life, but that does not mean that she is unsuited to a public one. After all, she insists, it is only for one year. When I’ve asked, “Might it be that you would never come back?” she has answered, “It’s only for a year.” I should immediately add that this was not to be a year alone. All along, Jeanne has insisted that I am part of the plan and am to go with her. I like to think that this is because she loves me, but if that is only part of the reason (for she will need a hewer of wood and fetcher of water—a man servant in the general sense), then I am content, for I too need looking after and our lives have been interdependent since the first day of our marriage over fifty years ago.

Before leaving our home in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, I contacted the editors of Tempo, the monthly news magazine in the Town of Lac Brome (which I will refer to as “Lac Brome”), to enquire whether they would be interested in receiving reports of our progress in the endeavour. They said, “Yes.” This book is based upon those articles.

#75. Outhouse - Copy

My original intention was to produce a work echoing the objectives of Thoreau who, in addition to describing his daily life in his chosen wilderness, commented on the mores and politics of his time in his Walden. However, each time that I penned such a commentary, I realized that it detracted from the essence of our experience. The reaction to the Tempo articles proved that the unfolding of the tale of our daily lives was all that was required to engender intense interest and comment. Thus this memoir has to do exclusively with living in the woods.