Yesterday I flushed our toilet for the first time since early June. It still works. It’s currents still swirl in a lovely clockwise motion.

You might wonder if we have been inflicted with some serious bowel or bladder obstructions, but the real issue is location . . .location . . .location. Here, at our Outpost in the Yukon Territory, Nancy and I live fifty seven steps from an art gallery, a library, a quiet seat in the park, a meditation center, a local think tank, a wildlife refuge and . . . a long drop.

My description of nearby community assets, might conjure images of a small mall with its multitude of joined offerings but I am pleased to report that each of the amenities noted is found under one 5×5 foot roof.

It was only early last spring that I learned from direct experience that a “long drop” is the South African title for an outhouse or biffy.

Culturally and socially, we Westerners tend to hide anything to do with human waste. But I would argue that we should take such a sacred moment and make it more enjoyable. So with that credo in mind we have created a multi-use long drop.

Most of the outhouse furnishings have been provided by the local Mt. Lorne dump, located about four miles from our place. You see up here, they not only have a dump to leave your garbage but an incredibly all-encompassing recycling center at the same location so that in fact the end result is very little garbage is sent to a landfill.

We have grown quite fond of going to the dump. It is a great place to meet new people as you browse through the “share shacks.” This is similar to the websites that advertise “Freecycling” in most metropolitan areas. This is a wonderful service that helps folks give away stuff they no longer want or need. And in so it helps reduce the buying of more “stuff.”

One open fronted shack contains clothes that have provided us with thick colorful wool sweaters, good slippers, fleece pajamas (like new), mint green jeans and even sassy sandals and tough work boots.

The other, similarly open fronted shack is my favorite. It has provided me with a first edition mint copy of Thomas Friedman’s book The Earth is Flat and some very nice biology textbooks and stacks of magazines. Here we also found a nearly new bread machine that has been cranking out fresh bread on a weekly basis. We found nice juice glasses, beer mugs, a knife block and other kitchen necessities. This is the shack that we have given the outhouse a makeover that has transformed it into the aforementioned destinations.

As you nestle down on the pink, inch and a half thick foam insulation outhouse seat, you can look at artwork that surrounds you. There is a North of 60° still life scene of a once-fortified Yukon Jack bottle, which proudly claims to be the “black sheep of Canadian liquors.” It’s now a vase. Two inches of solid ice in the bottom of the bottle tightly grip the still-bright, but wilted purple fireweed blossoms.

Hanging behind the sitter, (note the proper use of the word), there are garlands of plastic green grape vines and several bright yellow sunflowers. With recent mornings dipping below 0° F, the plastic botanical conservatory-look helps make the experience more pleasant, almost summery.

A platter-sized plaster seashell also takes us to tropical thoughts. But then the print of an artist’s rendition of a cold blue shadows falling over snowdrifts reminds us not to dally. Behind the seat is a rusted old hunting knife and equally rusty wire cutters that were kicked out of the dirt nearby.

If you don’t want to watch the comings and goings of red squirrels, boreal chickadees or whisky jacks (gray jays), close the curtain and consider the reading material. The stack literature sits next to your right buttock. Magazines include: Natural History, a couple of thirty year old Mother Earth News, a book on Animal Behavior and of course, an old pocket book of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction classic, The Martian Chronicles. Which incidentally he offers the following philosopher’s quote in the beginning of the book: “It is good to renew one’s wonder.” And this is a lovely place to do just that.

Next to your left cheek is the all-important toilet paper. It is housed in another dump find. Kept from the incisors of mice and squirrels, the roll of paper is kept inside an old plastic floppy disk case. With its smoky clear plastic cover you can find it easily. Behind the case is a large, porcelain cookie jar. The handle of the lid is shaped like a dog biscuit so I suspect it is truly a dog biscuit jar. It easily holds two extra rolls of toilet paper and is mouse-proof.

A single moose antler is propped in the corner. Above the antler is a found dried branch with a pleasing shape. In the opposite corner, just off your left knee, is a five-gallon bucket of wood ash to occasionally sprinkle down the long drop.

The two dried corn cobs that sit so lonely in a little metal basket, not only mementos of the Midwest, but they are clear reminders of just how rough things could be if the toilet paper runs out.

So if you choose to visit us for cultural enlightenment, simply walk out past the garage. Pass the column of balanced boulders and stones, called an “” by the Innuit and look for the quaint hut with a sign on the outside that reads: “Dog Mushing Area – Please Slow Down.”

Step in, enjoy the array of community assits and leave a donation. You will feel so much better.