Spring Forward

Buds! Finally! Photo by View From Here(!)

New England is finally getting to what the rest of y’all consider spring like weather — ok, it’s summer already, and we skipped Spring. And people are making plans for their gardening and construction projects.

That means that my life partner (hubs) looks like a kid with his nose pressed up against the glass waiting to get outside to play in the muck. But like that over eager urchin, he is overwhelmed by the limitless ways to spend his energy.

By FireflySixtySeven — Own work using Inkscape, based on Maslow’s paper, A Theory of Human Motivation., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36551248

What do we do first?!

Here, I turn to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for guidance. Briefly, the theory posits that one can achieve self-actualization only if basic needs are met. They include food, shelter, safety, love, self-esteem.

As with everything we are doing in VT, let’s start at rock bottom.


Secure Shelter

Last summer worked because we camped quite a bit, and occasionally stayed in an AirBnB if storms were blowing in, or if it was time for laundry. We also tried making the mouse/hantavirus-filled camper work when the coyotes grew friendly. But this summer, we are upping our game — committing to a nearby inexpensive, mouse-proof, wifi-rich, shower-filled rental apartment. It was super necessary, especially since there will be many helpful visitors, and we shouldn’t expect that they’ll want to camp — right?


And the garden! It exists…in its own special way: the posts are crooked; the chicken wire has gaps; there’s too much clay in the soil. And yet, I love it, because I nurtured the plants from seed. I love it so much that I hauled desiccated cow poop from a neighbor in a holy bucket, and worked it into the soil by hand.


Sadly, we had plans to improve it, but an emergency called us away without watering the poor transplants. Let’s see how it fares this week, and if our kind neighbor will take pity on it. Water! Water is key to Maslow, no?



I can’t with the squat and cathole business. Call me crazy, but I don’t enjoy tripping over “the log” in the middle of the night when nature calls. Instead, hubs and I have acquired a chemical free, sustainable composting toilet (pix coming soon)!

If all the pennies were in my pocket, I might prefer a septic system, but did y’all know that a septic system costs $20,000? I became excited about the ecological benefits of this “butter churning” mechanism real fast! We simply turn the crank, and empty the tank every once in a while. It’s a small, smelly price to pay to avoid doing our business al fresco with inquisitive neighbors dropping by for surprise visits. The unit must be ensconced in an enclosure that is water proof in order for the good bugs to do their good work in the butter churner. Our enclosure may, or may not, involve silver tarps and a dry-erase board, but don’t hold a candle to these beauties…

Inspiring outhouse options from L to R: Mushroom outhouse in Bavaria, photo by Jan Vančura; Recycled bottle bathroom, Source unknown; Zipper outdoor shower stall at Yestermorrow School in VT, https://yestermorrow.org.

Added bonus: composting toilet companies have awesome names, such as Nature’s Head and Sun-Mar. If those aren’t inspiring enough, there’s a non-profit, called Toilets for People, that creates composting toilet kits for people to assemble from scrap material in developing countries.



We got a Subaru. In Vermont. I am happy to embrace the cliche.

It’s old, it’s brown, it’s mine…Ok, I’ll share it with hubs. It has a “way back,” a term my weirdo family used for the backward-facing seat in our 1988 wood-paneled station wagon. Our Subaru’s “way back” folds down so that there’s enough room to sleep inside — should our housing fall through, or if we need to haul big things that aren’t me.

As I type, antsy hubs is scouring Craigslist for ATVs, trailers, and other large machines to make our work more efficient this summer. I don’t know where they fall on Maslow’s hierarchy yet, but I imagine hubs arguing for “Esteem” while charging up the mountain on an ATV.

How about you? What are must haves for your summer projects? Comment below, share our story, and follow this real and ridiculous journey on Facebook and Instagram.

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