Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trying to Look on the Bright Side

This week, after getting through four classes of 8-10 page research paper rough drafts in three and a half days, I come home on Thursday to my water being shut off, because the city is doing work on the water main. After the water is turned back on, we're under a boil order for the next 48 hours. I was warned of this, but that doesn't make it any better.

I try to put the best spin on it: I can pretend that I'm camping. Heating water in the electric kettle, using my dishpans, and pretending I'm washing the dishes on a picnic table somewhere cool. I could remember lovely mornings looking at the Mackinac Bridge, mornings at the Headwaters of the Mississippi, mornings overlooking Lake Superior. The power of positive thinking? The power of memories?

When my family and I camped when my sisters and I were younger, my mother came up with the concept of "days" to curb the bickering. Whoever's "day" it was had to wash the breakfast dishes, the one whose day it was next wiped them, and the third one put them away. (When lunch came, it moved one position: whoever's day it was next washed, #3 washed, and #1 put away; same went for dinner.) Washing dishes was never a popular job and this tactic only dampened the complaining a little. Except. Except for those chilly mornings when to have your hands in a pan of hot water was a little bit of heaven. On those days, we offered to take the spot of whoever's turn it was. We would heat the water in two electric kettles and keep warming up the dishwater. I actually have some pretty good memories of those mornings, mostly because they were so out of the ordinary.

I resolve to try as I get the electric kettle out of the Scamp. The positive thinking actually lasts about fifteen minutes. Washing dishes one electric kettle of water at a time is not efficient and my attempts to pretend I'm elsewhere were not successful. It's completely different to wash a bowl and spoon--or even just the dinner dishes--than it is to wash pots and pans, which I don't use when I'm Scamping. Eventually, I abandoned the whole idea, embraced the size of my kitchen that allows me to own a stock pot, filled it with several gallons of water and set it to boil. Still not as wonderful as clean, safe water coming from the tap, but it's better.

To quote the brilliant essayist Paul Gruchow, sometimes there are better things than verisimilitude.

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