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.

viernes, 4 de mayo de 2012

Anne LaBastille en lo profundo del bosque (y del corazón)

“Sometimes I sit in my log cabin as in a cocoon sheltered by swaying spruces from the outside world. … Life seems to have no beginning and no ending. Only the steady expansion of trunk and root, the slow pileup of duff and debris, the lap of water before it becomes ice, the patter of raindrops before they turn to snowflakes.”

Anne LaBastille often lived in a log cabin on Twitchell Lake without plumbing or electricity. (Associated Press)

Adirondack author whose "Woodswoman" autobiographies inspired others to venture into the wilderness, has died (2011) at a nursing home in Plattsburgh.

Autor-ecologista Anne LaBastille con Condor, su pastor alemán, cerca de ... (Associated Press) 

In 1974 she helped build her own small cabin at the northeast end of Twitchell Lake, near Big Moose Lake.


ONE ARM DRAPED COMPANIONABLY AROUND ITS TRUNK, Anne LaBastille pats the bark of a 300- year-old spruce and gazes toward its crown."Nothing's going to happen to you as long as I'm around," she tells it. This isn't the first tree LaBastille has hugged, nor is it likely to be her last. The selfproclaimed "evangelical environmentalist" makes her home deep within New York State's Adirondack Park, but has ranged around the world, conducting ecological surveys for the World Wildlife Fund in Panama and Guatemala and consulting in the Caribbean and the Amazon. Closer to home, she's penned a four-part memoir of her life on the land, worked as a certified Adirondack guide and governorappointed park commissioner, and taught courses on nature writing and women in the wilderness at East Tennessee State University and Cornell.

LaBastille '55, PhD '69, was in her late twenties and recently separated when she moved to the woods in the mid-Sixties. She would lose both her home and her livelihood--running an Adirondack resort--in the divorce, and yearned for a sanctuary. She found it in a thirty-acre tract of lakefront property and a new career. "At the hotel, I didn't have any time to write," she recalls. "All afternoon I dragged water skiers up and down the lake, then I had to fix drinks for the guests and supervise the waitresses." At her log cabin, whose location she scrupulously protects, she rises at dawn, takes a dip, drinks an espresso, and starts writing--at her desk, on the dock, or in a canoe on the lake. The routine has yielded a doctoral dissertation in wildlife ecology, 180 articles for scientific journals and such magazines as National Geographic and Ranger Rick, and ten books.
On a cool, cloudy morning in June, LaBastille motors a small boat up to a public landing at the end of a dirt road in a remote corner of the park. She wears black jeans and a tattered flannel shirt, frosted pink lipstick, and a red baseball hat pulled over her pigtails. Krispy Kreme, her nine-month-old German shepherd, rides along. The dock serves as LaBastille's front gate, the only point of access to what she refers to as her "spiritual center."After a two-mile lake crossing, she docks at West of the Wind, a 400-square-foot cabin the writer built herself in the late Sixties and has called home ever since. There is no central heating, no electricity, no bathroom. The outhouse stands a few hundred feet away, just out of sight.
In the last three decades, global warming has transformed the property from a year-round home to a seasonal retreat. Throughout the Sixties and early Seventies, LaBastille says, a thick sheet of ice blanketed the lake, making snowshoeing across its surface easy going from Thanksgiving through late April. Now rain showers in February and winter temperatures well above freezing make such ventures treacherous and unpredictable.Without a phone or year-round neighbors to call in an emergency, LaBastille no longer winters here.
Instead, she keeps an old farmhouse in a town 100 miles away. This is her first visit to the cabin since fall, and there's much to do. Inside, the propane lines haven't been checked yet, so the refrigerator and fourteen lanterns in the kitchen and study stand idle. To show off her sleeping loft, she clambers up four toeholds nailed to the rough-hewn logs that frame the cabin's interior."Mice have been up here," she announces, then collects the droppings in an old plastic deli container. Overall, though, she pronounces the place in good shape.
Several outbuildings, all constructed from logs felled on the land, dot the area near the cabin. Reaching the largest, a 100- square-foot writer's retreat the author has dubbed Thoreau II, requires a thirtyminute hike. A handwritten sign nailed to the door advises hunters and hikers that there are no valuables or liquor stored inside. Furnishings include a writing desk and three chairs "for sociability," she says, quoting Thoreau. Like her favorite author, LaBastille lives alone, far from society; even so, she has maintained close friendships with neighbors and fellow Adirondack guides, and a lively correspondence with her readers.
Each of the first three memoir installments chronicles a decade. The latest, Woodswoman IIII, released on Earth Day 2003, spans just five years. Despite the time between books, LaBastille doesn't keep a journal. "If I tell a friend about the experience, that cements it," she says. Once in a while, she posts a sticky note near the desk to jog her memory. She doesn't bother with computers or e-mail, either. Using a yellow pad and black pen, she drafts each manuscript longhand, then types it on a Smith-Corona manual. In the early Eighties, LaBastille launched her own publishing house, West of the Wind Publishing Inc., to escape "snippy-snappy" New York City editors and improve her profit margins. "I figured after five books, I knew what I needed to know," she says of her early days with E.P. Dutton, the Sierra Club, and Norton, which owns rights to the first two Woodswoman books. An additional five books, including Jaguar Totem and Woodswoman III and IIII, bear her imprint.
Krispy Kreme, who has orange tape tied to her collar--a cue to edgy neighbors who might mistake her for a coyote and shoot to kill--is the latest of five shepherds who have shared LaBastille's life in the woods. As a single woman without children, she relies on them for companionship and protection. Four graves occupy a hillock just feet from the cabin, each marked with a granite headstone and flowers. When the time comes, says the writer, her lawyer will return here with her ashes, recite poet Sara Teasdale's "Barter," and bury her with her beloved pets. Yet with two books in the works, she shows no signs of slowing down and scoffs at the possibility of retiring. Instead, she's making plans to preserve her property as a retreat for other nature writers. "This whole age thing in America is sick," she says. "It makes people seem like they're useless and dependent. I plan to keep writing and doing all the things I do until I drop dead."
-- Sharon Tregaskise

LaBastilleWildlife ecologist, writer, and photographer Anne LaBastille (1933-2011) published four autobiographical books among her dozens of books and articles, Woodswoman being the first. Here she chronicles not so much an overt pursuit of solitude as an exploration of her personal accommodation with nature and people. As an avid naturalist, she built her own log cabin in the Adirondack forest, next to a lake, off the grid, away from roads and human habitation. "Ever since a childhood spent near New York City," she writes, "I had wanted to live in a Thoreau-style cabin in the woods." The motive was compounded by a divorce compelling her to quickly decide what she wanted to do with her unexpected solitude life.
The cabin becomes her physical and psychological sustenance, the embodiment of her solitude:
The cabin is the wellspring, the source, the hub of my existence. It gives me tranquility, a closeness to nature and wildlife, good health and fitness, a sense of security, the opportunity for resourcefullness, reflection, and creative thinking.
From childhood LaBastille's talent was both academic potential and nature. The book recounts intersections with a variety of people in an engaging narrative style, interspersed with adventures in the outdoors. But LaBastille is not a hermit (Noah John Rondeau and other local historical hermits she mentions only as local color); she is not a philosopher (she notes, of a mystery correspondent, that "it seems as if he were looking for a dream person, a recluse, a philosopher.") Her dealings with people always fall short of satisfying. Rather, the reader feels the physicalness of LaBasille's life trajectory, the ease with animals, trees, wind, water, snow, cold. Her circumambulations always return to the cabin. The book's epilog wistfullly summarizes her life in the cabin, as if it alone was permanent in the cycles of life:
Sometimes I sit in my log cabin as in a cocoon, sheltered by swaying spruces from the outside world. From traffic, and noise, and liquor, and triangles, and pollution. Life seems to have no beginning and no ending. Only the steady expansion of trunk and root, the slow pile up  of duff and debris, the lap of water before it becomes ice, the patter of raindrops before they return to snowflakes. Then the chirp of a swallow winging over the lake reminds me that ... there is always a new beginning.

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