talks about hermit fantasies
, and I’m so there. I’ve always maintained a hermit side to my Gemini personality, although what I’d really like is to be just a part-time hermit, spending a few days a week in a cabin and the rest of the time being useful in the city. I was sort of like that this summer, when many of my friends were out of town and I was in exile in Westmount (where I remain even now). Weekends were very hermity, but I really liked that. I got a lot of reading and writing and good cooking done, and lived entirely according to my own schedule. It was a real treat, although at times I felt like I was going a bit batty. There’s a fine line between sublime hermitage and cabin fever.
I remember when I was a kid–maybe ten years old–my dad took me with him one day to visit a hermit he knew. I have no idea who this man was, or how my dad knew him, or even why we went to see him. It was very unusual, in that my dad was not the type to hang around with hermits, or to expose my impressionable self to anything unconventional.
To get there we drove out of town for ten or fifteen minutes, then down a dirt road for a few miles. We came to a small tarpaper shack in a clearing on a hill. The shack was smaller than the office I’m sitting in now, with only one room, probably twelve by fifteen feet. It was a bit dark inside, and somewhat cluttered, but I don’t recall it being dingy or smelly. There was a small wood stove, a small table, a dresser, and a bed built into the wall. It was very rustic, with raw wood all around. It was not “refined” rustic–things were rough and the threat of splinters was everywhere. There were two or three greasy windows letting in smeared light, and a few natty pictures here and there. I think there was also some kind of makeshift sink, although I doubt there was running water.
There was also no electricity. Instead, there were three or four kerosene lamps and a few candles. I was struck by how cozy everything seemed. I particularly remember the bed, which also served as a sofa. I remember imagining what it would be like to curl up there at night by the glow of the kerosene lamps. I’ve never lost that feeling.