El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.

sábado, 21 de enero de 2012

La cabaña de Gilean Douglas, su lugar protegido

Nature is prodigal, but never wasteful. Even the most bizarre of her experiments have meaning and her endings are always beginnings.
—Gilean Douglas, The Protected Place (1979) 

Gilean Douglas, 1900-1993

Gilean Douglas was born on Feb. 1, 1900, into a wealthy & socially prominent Toronto family. Her childhood was one of privilege, but when she was orphaned at the age of 16 she began to turn away from her inherited lifestyle and the expectations of the class she was born to. She marred in 1922, and her husband assumed her last name. They set off on an adventurous automobile trip through the States , which Douglas recorded in a journal and photographs. In 1924 Douglas' health collapsed from the effects of an overactive thyroid, a condition that plagued her for much of her life. After seven months in hospital she separated from her first husband and returned to Toronto in 1925.This was her home base for the next 15 years. The rest of the 1920s and the 1930s held two more marriages, much travel, and continuing work as a photo-journalist, with work published under several different pseudonyms. 

Douglas began to build a reputation as a poet during this time:
The year 1939 marked a turning point in Gilean Douglas' life. She moved from the east to the west coast ; from the city to the country. For the next seven years, her home base was a small cabin in an isolated mountain valley. Although she continued to travel and work as a journalist, her life centered around the cabin and the surrounding environment. Much of her later work is built upon the themes of silence and solitude, which form the foundation for her identity as a person and as a writer. 

The writings recording Douglas' life in the mountains were published under the pseudonym Grant Madison because of disbelief that a woman could have lived the life described. "Grant Madison " developed a devoted following of fans, and Douglas carried on several long correspondences in his name. (She also used this name for some of her feminist articles .) River For My Sidewalk and Silence Is My Homeland document this period of her life . 

In 1947 Douglas' cabin was destroyed by fire and two years later she moved to a 138 acre waterfront property on Cortes Island with her fourth husband. Her marriage ended in 1953 but she remained there for the rest of her long life. Her home at Channel Rock was isolated, with no road access and no electricity. She had a large garden, and supplemented her writing income by selling produce and plants . 

Starting in the 1960s, Douglas' writing centred increasingly on her life at Channel Rock . She wrote a regular column, "Nature Rambles", for the Victoria Times Colonist from 1961 to 1992, the year before her death. The Protected Place is based on these columns . 

During her years on Cortes, Douglas was active in community affairs . She held local, district, provincial and national office in the Women's Institute, edited a book on its history, and was awarded a Life Membership in 1989. She belonged to the Women's Auxiliary of the Anglican Church and gave the address on the World Day of Prayer for 22 years . Douglas was a member of the first Cortes Advisory Planning Commission and represented Cortes on the Regional Board from 1968 until 1977 .She played an important role in framing the regulatory bylaws designed to guide the development brought about by increased population growth . She was also a Weather Observer for Environment Canada for 33 years. 

Gilean Douglas died on Cortes Island on October 31st, 1993.

Douglas, Gilean
Gilean Douglas (christened Gillian Joan Coldham Douglas) was born in Toronto, Ont. In 1900. Orphaned at the age of 16, she began to work as a free-lance writer and photographer. Over her lifetime her work appeared in more than 200 publications, often published under pseudonyms (Grant Madison, Armoral Kent and Jill MacLean). Douglas published eight books of poetry and three books of non-fiction, and, from 1961 to 1992, wrote a regular column, "Nature Rambles", for the Victoria Colonist (later Times-Colonist). In 1939, following the collapse of her third marriage, Douglas moved from Ontario to an isolated cabin in the mountains near Hope, B.C. Her first two books of nature writing (one published under the name Grant Madison) document her life there. Her cabin was destroyed by fire in 1947 and two years later she moved to a 138-acre waterfront homestead on Cortes Island with her fourth husband, Philip Douglas, (ne Major). Her marriage ended in 1953 but she remained there until her death in 1993. Her home, Channel Rock, had no road access and no electricity. (...)

Narratives of Coming Home: Gilean Douglas and Nature Writing 
by Andrea Lebowitz

The Search for Place

Douglas always managed to take and make a life of her own, but finding home and community came more slowly and with greater difficulty, since a sense of betrayal and the perceived inadequacies of her guardians and loved ones was always with her. However, the turning point into a life of self-content and confidence came during the late ‘thirties and ‘forties. These were the crucial years of living in the Cascade Mountains not far (as the crow flies) from Kamloops, B.C.. 

She purchased a miner’s cabin and lived for almost a decade in the valley of the Teal and Wren Rivers and Evergreen and Cougar Mountains. An initial year of coming to terms with isolation and solitude changed intimidation into release, and she settled into the pattern that would shape the rest of her life: working the land for survival, observing and immersing herself into the natural world and writing: 

I remember when I first came here. The mountains made me feel so small and when the night fell, the forests seemed to threaten me with their greater darkness….Here was I, one little human being in all this immensity…(who had been) always surrounded by people and with cities everywhere. So now all this, to live in for my lifetime if all went well, seemed more than I could bear. I did not realize that I was like a starving man who has suddenly been given more food than his stomach can tolerate….First I must cleanse myself, then I must renew. Then, and not until then could I look my mountains calmly in the face and know that the kingdom of heaven was indeed within me—if I would only let it be. (Silence 68-9) 

Her initial sense of threat and foreboding derived not so much from the immensity of nature as from the failure and frailty of the human person within it. Having shifted her focus from the world’s demands to her own inner strengths and desires, Douglas came to a profound experience of peace and contentment in nature and an unending delight in mountains: 

If we still praise tall mountains and the sky
it is because there is need to know
that, in the darkly sanguine ebb and flow
with reason lashed upon the spar of why,
here is serenity: men war and die,
yet peace remains. The frail years come and go,
but here is calm and certainty that no
mad mouth of greed can shame or terrify
("Nature Poets in Now," Prodigal 17). 

Her achievement of a sense of serenity and fulfilment was directly dependent on nature which was also the source of her moral certainty. For Douglas, this perception of nature as the ground of her existence never wavered. 

While there were other wilderness dwellers within walking distance and visitors and friends sought her out, her experience was marked by a profound solitude shared most closely by and with wild animals: 

I have seen the eyes of the lynx then, too, following me at some distance in the underbrush as I moved along the trail. He seems to have quite a fondness for such sleuthing, so I judge him to be a rather curious fellow and perhaps not averse to a bit of human companionship….But if the mountain lion cares for two-footed companionship he has not announced it to me….Once I came face to face with him as I rounded a ledge of rock, and he reminded me of nothing so much as the Cheshire cat. One moment he was there and the next he had dissolved silently into the landscape while the impression of him seemed to linger on the mountain air. But he did not smile. (Silence 114) 

During these years in the Cascade Mountains, Douglas grew or made most of the necessities of life and augmented her income with the proceeds of her writing. While she published poems and articles in many places, her major books were still a decade in the future. (...)

Gilean Douglas' cabin. 40 years of homesteading feminist conservationist canadian writing


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