Marking My Territory

A friend of mine who used to recruit staff for the school boards in northern Manitoba once told me that his best pitch for convincing a male teacher to sign up was the fact that he could get up every morning, walk out onto the deck, and relieve himself without having to answer to anyone for it.

It can certainly be argued that the number one thing about having a cabin in the woods is the freedom to take care of number one anywhere you please.

How many times have you been working outside at your city home and been forced to drop everything, take off your boots, remove your dirty work clothes, and walk through the house to use the toilet?

It is very inefficient and unproductive. Many people don’t even bother to redress again and go back outside to complete the chores. Outdoor work requires a rhythm, a groove, momentum. Once that is broken, it is very difficult to find the motivation to continue. The sweat cools, you get a chill, and it’s all over until the next fine day sometime later in the month.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just turn off the lawnmower, unzip the old jeans, and just let ‘er fly right there in the front yard? One can only dream, but you know what would happen if a neighbour saw you.

At the cabin, my father and I have never really worried about it. As nature calls, we answer. My mother has always protested, out of disgust or jealousy I am not sure, but it is a sore spot with her and I suspect she is afraid that my father will one day forget when he is back in the city and shake the dew off the lily right in front of the neighbour’s kids.

He is pushing 70 so he may be able to plead his case as a senior citizen, but my mother would rather not deal with it at all. At the cabin, ironically, it has been a bit difficult to justify the action based on the argument of efficiency. We have an outhouse, which, according to my mother, is the perfect solution.

In fact, there have been suggestions of putting an outhouse in the back yard of the house in the city. I suspect there are by-laws against this and the social discomforts involved in explaining the reason for it to family and friends will no doubt ensure that the city outhouse remains in a perpetual planning stage.

My position on the matter is that I can legitimately claim that I am marking my territory. It is commonly practiced by dominant males in nature and we are living among them here is the bush so it makes perfect sense. In fact, my mother was having problems with the deer eating her flowers, so my father and I extended the reach of our program and started marking the entire border of the front of the property. The deer left the flowers alone.

In the interest of family harmony and the retention of our cook the boys finally decided to negotiate a compromise. We agreed to do our business at the edges of the property and in the woods, out of plain view of the water where the neighbours occasionally cruise by our dock. We also relinquished our right to relieve ourselves off the end of the deck. Apparently, the grass was starting to get brown patches and although I have my doubts, my mother claimed that she could smell it. The new system worked well for a while but something happened that has taken us back to the drawing board.

The recent visit from the wolf has caused my mother to slightly rethink her position on the subject. Whether by coincidence or not, it arrived shortly after we had significantly reduced our coverage of the property. My father and I will no doubt take full advantage of the situation, and plan to revert back to the original routine as near as possible. We obviously need to do a better job of marking our territory.

Written by: Andrew Walker

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One Comment »

  • Mike said:

    Glad to see you’re marking your territory.  It was always a point of contention between males and females — I think that the latter are just a bit jealous that it is so easy for us!  Can’t say it kept the bears away, but may have helped with some of the other critters. We tried everything from markings to human hair to fences to commercial products to keep the deer out of our garden (between the tree & the shed) but finally gave up.  Since you’re out for longer periods of time you may have luck.Mike