Monday, May 23, 2011

Richard Proenneke

In some recent posts, I've touched upon living a simpler, more natural life. Again, I want to emphasize that I don't intend to live a primitive lifestyle. As I have said before, I enjoy my creature comforts. Still, I do think there are some things to be learned from a simpler lifestyle.

A few years ago, I caught a broadcast on KERA (PBS) about Richard Proenneke.  The film really caught my attention, and I went out later and purchased a related book, Alone in the Wilderness.

Dick Proenneke was quite a man. In 1968, he moved to Alaska to an area called Twin Lakes. He constructed a cabin using only hand tools, such as an axe and other basic tools: no backhoes, no chainsaws, no electric drill, just hand powered tools. Dick even made many of his tools himself.

Dick's cabin measured 11' by 14'. It had a gravel floor, windows, a dutch door, a fireplace, and a moss covered waterproof roof. He had to build all his own furniture, too -- chairs, tables, desk and his bunk. He also built a cache to store his food out of the reach of the animals.

Dick Proenneke building his cabin

Again, I'm a bit too spoiled to live like this, but I admire someone who is so in tune with his environment that he knows exactly what he needs. And Dick's lifestyle drives home the fact that we really don't need all the material possessions most of us have to lead a satisfying life.

And have we lost the satisfaction of doing work using our own bare hands? One of my favorite moments is sitting on my patio looking over my freshly mowed lawn and taking satisfaction in the fact that I did the work.

So, as I move from one home to another, I evaluate every item we possess -- do we need it or not?

What would Dick Proenneke do?

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