One Man’s Wilderness book review

One Man’s Wilderness book review

“I don’t know what the answer is. In time man gets used to almost anything, but the problem seems to be that technology is advancing faster than he can adjust to it. I think it’s time we started applying the brakes, slowing down our greed and slowing down the world.”

Dick Proenneke

Based on the 1968/69 journals of Dick Proenneke and edited/written by Sam Keith, later made into the documentary film “Alone in the Wilderness“, One Man’s Wilderness is simply mind blowing. It’s what many of us dream of doing – but we seriously don’t have the old school skills or determination of the legendary Dick Proenneke who, at 50 years of age, heads to Alaska, builds his own cabin with simple tools and then spends the next 35 years living in tune with nature.

The book is both inspirational and also a frustrating, tantalizing vision of what once was and what is now almost impossible. It’s the “modern” version of Thoreau’s Walden. Every modern book, film and TV series on Alaska started from this.

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Pine Marten tracks in snow

Pine Marten tracks in snow

We have a huge problem with Pine Martens (Martes martes) as they live in my attic and cover the garden with all the roof insulation they rip out to make nests. These tracks are from my garden.

New Year in the Carpathians

New Year in the Carpathians

Last night, New Year’s Eve (or Silvester as they call it locally) was beyond cold. The thermometer broke so I’ve no idea just how cold it got but in the morning it was minus 17 Centigrade.

We spent several hours preparing wood from old planks and beech and oak logs, then made sure both the living room fire and the bedrooms’ traditional brick and tile pec were stocked. We went through a honking amount of wood battling the cold. We treated ourselves to a few luxury foodstuffs for symbolism – ruby port, fine cigar, Swiss chocolate, Stilton cheese, pistachios, Italian Panetone, non-alcoholic German Sekt for the kids… At midnight we set off fireworks in the back garden.

I hope 2015 will be a good year for all of us. I’ve entered it with no pre-concieved plans, which is unusual for me, and will await the Muse. New Year’s Eve was a challenge we overcame and which resulted in successful enjoyment. I hope that set the tone for the entire year

Happy New Year to everyone!

It’s cold already….

It’s cold already….

This season is somewhat like Limbo – the colours of Autumn have gone as all the leaves have fallen, yet the white of Winter has yet to arrive. Instead, the temperature has dropped uncomfortably low (-8 C in the mornings) and the land looks dead. It takes a huge effort to even venture outdoors. I’d wanted to photograph the stark white of the frozen forests on the hill tops but the blue sky quickly disappeared and was replaced by a grey, freezing fog which hid them.

This impressive log pile is just over the border into Poland, in the Magura National Park. We went again over the weekend, planning to take the kids for a walk in the forest, but the ambient just wasn’t inviting. In another month or so, when everything will be under thick snow, it will be more appealing. We passed a couple of beaver dams beside the road, and the artificial lakes the animals had created, and which had swamped parts of the woodland, were frozen over. no sign of the beavers though.

We switched off the water at the house and emptied the pipes as the temperature is plummeting too quickly and we don’t want to have to deal with the mess in Spring. I’m sure we’ll still have to replace the odd tap (faucet) or two but it’s the underground pipes which are of greatest concern.

Winter is a different world and this year looks like it’s going to be a nasty one.