Life: Unplugged

When I describe our place in Quebec, few people can fathom our unplugged life. No television, telephone, cell calls or texts, no computers, newspapers or mail service, no stores nearby, no need to get in a car. Yes, we have a roof, beds, bathrooms, running water, comfy couches, electricity.

We’re not camping.

gidvalIndeed, certain services at Club Pythonga are downright luxurious: blocks of Ice, cut from the lake during the winter, are delivered to the cabin daily. The ice keeps food and drink cold and in the evening, we take a chunk of ice, smash it into rough cubes, and use it in our cocktails.

We don’t keep a lot cold: there’s a central kitchen, and everyone who’s “in camp” eats together, breakfast and dinner, at the dining hall or at picnic tables outside.

It’s truly a vacation when someone else is cooking.

Shared meals create a time when families and generations come together. (At its August peak, Pythonga draws 100 people.) Sure, the teenagers sit at one table — not texting! — but when one gets up for another helping, he’ll stop and chat with someone else’s grandfather, or tease one of the high-chaired babies.

What does it mean to spend a few weeks unplugged?

During the day it’s easy to spend time sunning or reading or hiking or swimming. At night, after dinner, what’s there to do? Some nights we look at the stars. Others we play hearts, or Scrabble, or poker. The kids play a card game called Spoons: it’s fast, and loud.

Mostly, we visit.

Visit? Typically it’s an invitation to come by after dinner, to sit on a screened-in porch or inside by a fire, drink and talk and maybe look at photos from the day’s outing. We talk about books, bourbon, who’s catching fish and how he’s doing it. The Pleiades, and whether they’re the source of this summer’s shooting stars. Isaac’s inner-city 8th graders, and what they should read. The future of newspapers. Heath care.

Like the kids, we get loud; we laugh a lot. But outside, it’s quiet, and when we leave a cabin for our own it’s so dark we need a flashlight to find our way.

We have everything in this life of ours; some weeks the greatest pleasure is doing without.

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