Thursday, December 4, 2014

Experiments in Off Grid Living

I've shared with some already that I'm living in Maine in a lodge that is "off-grid". I like the Wiki definition:
"The term off-the-grid (OTG) can refer to living in a self-sufficient manner without reliance on one or more public utilities. Off-the-grid homes are autonomous; they do not rely on municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas, electrical power grid, or similar utility services."

And ... I love it! After a summer spent living at the Maine Primitive Skills School (MPSS) helping out with marketing and community outreach I felt ready to really live in the woods. Not just in someone's backyard woods with the nearby convenience's of electricity and running water. I met Grandfather Ray briefly last spring and was aware that a few acquaintances had built or rented lodges on his land thanks to +Candi Huber casually mentioning it during one of our MPSS meetings. I clearly remember thinking how intense it all sounded at that moment, but after taking a class with Ray at the end of the summer and touring the property I realized how completely awesome it would be!

@Home in Caanan, Maine
Fast forward three weeks and I'm moving into an Earth Lodge. Since I'd never even heard of these structures just a year ago feel free to navigate herehere, and here and come back to the post once you've read all about what an Earth Lodge is. Fast forward again to present day and I've just returned from a comfortable two week visit to my hometown in the suburbs of Boston for Thanksgiving. Aside from the chaos the squirrels caused while I was away, I was peacefully welcomed home by a bright full moon illuminating the snow on the ground. I noticed that the temperature was significantly lower than it had been in MA, and was steadily dropping (It's gone from 19 to 12 since I've been here) but the lodge was surprisingly comfortable. Now, let's pause briefly to acknowledge that comfort varies widely amount individuals. For example, the summer I came home from Taiwan (where a cool day is 76) during the middle of a heat wave in August I insisted on wearing nylons to a friend's wedding because it was just too cold to go without. I never did feel warm enough in the US that year to wear shorts or a tank top for the rest of the summer. Friends and family thought I was delusional. Now, even in the dead of winter I sleep with the windows open when I visit my parents because 72 seems suffocating compared to the fresh, cool, brisk air outside.

Back to the story at hand. It was definitely cool enough outside to not want to go without gloves for too long, but once inside I really had no desire to start the woodstove. And then I started wondering, would it be possible to go without any heat? Was that safe? Could I freeze to death in my sleep? A quick Google search led me to an entertaining blog written by a fellow Masshole turned Mainer* titled Cold House Journal. In fact, this was an experiment many had attempted previously! It was tempting to discover, is my cozy sleeping bag really rated to 30 degrees? If I was ever stranded in the cold, could I survive in a shelter without fire? Tune in later for the full report! ツ

*Yes, everyone in Maine does refer to those from Massachusetts as "Massholes" in fact it's so common it's  often not even considered offensive.

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