Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Living on the Edge

When I was in graduate school studying grouse, I lived in a cabin in the woods of northern Michigan for 8 months out of the year. It was shared housing, and you just never knew who would be bunking with you from night to night. We had foresters, hunters, deer researchers, and a few people who may or may not have just wandered in from the nearest two track. Mostly we all got along, and when we didn't, somebody would just camp out in the backyard until the other person left. It was a good deal either way...the backyard was the bank of the Pigeon River.

At one point during my second or third year, a woodsy kind of guy was calling the cabin home for a few weeks while he worked in the area. He was a nice enough fellow, but maybe just a little bit socially challenged. Returning from a hard day of trap setting, my crew and I entered the cabin to find the visitor with the heel of his foot resting in a cereal bowl. It seems he had some sort of injury or infection, and he felt the need to soak it in a little warm water. Now, I would say he had every right to soak any sore part of his body, except that it was a community kitchen, and that was a community bowl. He probably had to rinse some one's breakfast out of it to make room for his foot.

In the moment, none of us had the nerve to challenge him on his strange choice to use a bowl instead of say, a bucket from under the sink or the river out back. In hindsight we were probably too scared to find out what he had been doing with the spoons. So we just shot each other "Eeeewww!" looks and went about our business.

In the morning, the bowl of water was still resting on the table...but did we toss it in the trash, where it so clearly belonged? No. Somebody found a Sharpie, and somebody turned it over and wrote "Foot Bowl" in prominent letters. Our visitor never knew it, but he lived in infamy...each time we went in the cabinet, we would make sure we weren't putting our Ramen noodles or mac and cheese into the "Foot Bowl." We would howl in laughter if some unknowing soul (or better yet, one of us) made the mistake of using it. "Uhhh!" I can remember groaning as I discovered that in my sleep deprived, grouse trapping stupor I had grabbed the "Foot Bowl" by mistake and was eating out of it. What is a person to do? Dump out perfectly good Lucky Charms just because they might have foot cooties? When you think about it, perhaps we were all a bit socially challenged.



If you saw how incredibly dangerous this rock wall is, you'd be nervous for me! You probably already are!

Love U

Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr