“Heading home? Mind giving me a lift?”
H climbed in my small boat. She had been working up at the woodwork shop putting in a new back door. Seems she’s been ‘in’ construction all her life running crews all around the world. Tools came easily to hand with her and the kibitzing was classic ‘work-site’ stuff. She could ‘yup‘ and ‘nope‘ with the best of us.
For her, the back door re-fit was ‘nuttin’, honey’ and she decided to build a back deck while she was at it – ‘made it easier to put the door on having a place to stand’. H is a big, strong woman in her late 50’s. A grandmother. She did more in her four hours at the Q-hut than I have done in 20.
I swung the little boat into her bay. I had never been there before. She pointed to the shore.
“See those rocks there? By the big cedar? They have enough water for the boat to get close. You can drop me there.”
I did as I was told. And she got out with her bundles of mail, books and two extra props for her outboard that she had ‘scored’ from a neighbour. As she pushed me off, I noticed that she was standing in the water up to her ankles. Her socks and shoes were soaked.
“Geez, H. Sorry you got your feet wet.”
“No problem. I’m just happy not to have to hike home the long way carrying all this stuff. The shoes dry. Trust me. This is the way I get home when I am lucky!”
She scrambled across the rocky beach carrying twenty five awkward pounds and headed up to her cabin in the bush. I’ll see her next week when she shows up at the woodworking shop for another project.
Tough? Yeah. She’s tough. Real tough. But she’s not alone out here. There are other tough single women. The women with partners are tough, too. Generally speaking, all the women are tough in some kind of ‘outdoorsy‘ way. But the single women simply have to do more for themselves.
Or pay. Some of the single women keep it together by paying for some of the heavy work to get done but that is the most difficult way to cope of all. Money is not the great equalizer out here. Half, maybe. People who have to pay to get things done generally don’t get things done.
“So, why do they live there? Why not go back to the city, get a job or something? Maybe even a job at Walmart being a greeter? It would be easier at the very least?”
A few have tried. But they come back. Once you are ‘out’ of the city, it is hard to get back in. Especially when you are older. And all the people I am talking about are older. The vast majority of people out here are 50 plus and most of them are 60 plus.
But the main reason is ‘trade-off’. It is better for them to scramble across a beach in wet shoes than re-insert themselves (or try to) into the normal way of living in the city. To a person, it doesn’t seem worth the effort. Shoes and socks dry quickly enough.