Friday, 12 April 2013


Meet Gilbert and Donna---friendly acquaintances at our pondside  camp.  That's our rigs on the far side
 Every day we all walked around the pond for exercise.
Then I learned that they actually lived here behind that wall of foliage. 
 Of course I want the story so I approach their camp.
They invite me in. 
Their little dog is the love of their life.  They also feed 5 feral cats.
I tell them about this blog and ask permission to tell their story. He consults with his wife and they agree.
Donna shows me the details of their lifestyle.  They have lived like this for 4 years. When Gilbert lost his job they received food stamp money ---$367 a month.  Their trailer park rent was $300 which they didn't have. Donna suggested they could go live in the woods----and they did.

At first they didn't even have a tent.  Someone gave them one and slowly they acquired the equipment they now have----mostly by donation.  Donna shows me her cooking technique:  A flat stone in the middle of the fire where the skillet is put.
That's the shower back there---in a really lovely glade.
Another camper gave them the work table.
For middle of the night urges, this handy ring.
Gilbert shows off his coleman lanterns.
As we talked a friend brought them some ice.  Lasts 5 days.
I began an extensive interview.  They were amazingly open. Here's the story:
Married 24 years---he 57--she 46.  They met when he was the maintenance man in her
complex.  She was attracted to him and deliberately broke things for him to fix--till he "got the message." She became an alcoholic but got sober 20 years ago.  They tried living in a mission for awhile but had to sleep separately --they rejected that option.
Donna has medical problems which are handled by Choctaw Indian services.  They have kids who respect their choice of outdoor living and visit often--taking them shopping etc.  They eat healthy, she says---vegetables at every meal.  Both emphasized how they have come to love living this way---that the clamor of town makes them anxious to return here.  The surprising thing is that $367 is enough to sustain them--with just a bit of help from friends---taking them shopping occasionally--and moving camp when they must.  Gilbert was arrested recently for failure to pay old traffic tickets.  An understanding Judge (Stanley) reviewed the total situation and dropped all charges and fines---only directed Gilbert to go do some good deed for others.  He did---that very day--but that's another story.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I call them heroes because they boldly embraced a lifestyle they could afford---instead of burdening their kids or the state (in any serious way) Our society can easily furnish this amount.
THEY FOUND A LIFE---an enjoyable life in a very odd place.  They do no harm.
THEY HAVE EACH OTHER---that makes all the difference. 
I gave them a pep talk---told them that one of the great souls (Thoreau) chose to go live by a pond---told them that you (my readers) would be inspired by their story.
I gave them one of my water cans and all of my collected aluminum cans (thank you CB for inspiring me to retrieve cans  wherever I see them and recycle).
Gave them batteries for their radio and $20 for sharing their story.


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