WARNING: This entry discusses the less romantic side of dry cabin living in Alaska. If you are easily grossed out, you may wish to wait for the next entry. If you are intrigued, please read on.
It took so long to happen, I honestly forgot about it until the other day when I went out to the outhouse at around noon. The sun was high and shining into the outhouse for the first time in months. And there, in the hole, was this big brown thing. It made me jump, I was so startled. I thought something was in there, like an animal, or a log. But then I remembered. The mythical poopsicle, or the term I prefer, the stalischite.
Now I know that you have all become so accustomed to indoor plumbing that this may not make sense, so let me spell it out. Having an outhouse means, when you go to the bathroom, it doesn’t go anywhere. It just sits in a hole. When that hole gets full, someone comes to suck it out. Having an outhouse in winter (when it doesn’t go above freezing for 4 months) means, when you go to the bathroom, it sits in a hole, outside and freezes. When it is frozen, someone can’t come and suck it out. So all winter you add to the frozen pile. Now, I’m not sure I completely understand the physics of how this tower of poop becomes so tall and skinny, but it forms. And the only thing to do, before it comes poking out of the toilet seat, is to knock it down.
We’ve been working hard to make this little cabin our home. We brought up a carload of stuff, my parents have sent many many boxes of stuff, and we have purchased some stuff. But a big move like this means you don’t have something in the shed to grab, like a shovel or a 2×4, that you can use to knock over the stalischite. And seriously, the idea of dishing out money to purchase a shovel for the sole purpose of knocking down frozen poop seems just wrong. Which brings me to the amazing DUMP. (haha!)
But seriously, folks, I’m talking about the trash dump. Well, the transfer stations, but we call it the dump. Here in Fairbanks, trash pickup is only reserved for homes that live right in town. We live on the outskirts of town, so we drive to the transfer station to drop off our trash. But it isn’t just a place to drop off trash bags. No, it’s a second hand shopping mecca. There is a structure with a roof and no walls, where people drop off their unwanted goods in hopes that someone else might want them instead. And folks, there is real pride in finding treasure at the dump. It’s like The Boxcar Children! Back in the fall, Lee and I popped in to look around and found over 20 physics text books that someone left. Many of them were books that Lee wanted but couldn’t afford. Let me tell you, it was a find! Another time, while I was testing a little girl at school, I told her I liked her sweater and asked if someone had knit it for her. She replied, “No. My mom got it at the dump!” To which I replied, “What a find!” (All I can say is, thank goodness I read The Frozen Toe Guide to Real Alaskan Livin’ by Brookelyn Bellinger before beginning work.)
But I digress. My thought was, there is NO way we are buying a shovel to knock down the stalischite. Let’s go find something at the dump. So we did. There wasn’t much there that evening. But there was an old patio umbrella with a long pole. Lee pulled off the attachement, and we now have a stalischite pole leaning against the outhouse. And no stalischite. Lee knocked it down. That’s a man’s job.