name three things you would take to a deserted island.
We used to ask eachother that as kids on a regular basis.
And I remember how my mind would light up with all problems I would need to solve in the absence of my home and my parents and my room and the store,
including the obvious greatest problem of all – passing time.
I would sometimes ponder this question alone, getting ready for the next time they asked, or maybe for when the real thing actually happens. Do I really need toys? Do I really need anything?
Most kids said food, sometimes even stocks of something specific, chocolate, peanut butter, or baloney sandwiches
Someone would then rejoice as they shattered that little fiction scenario with facts about refrigeration and preservation.
Can you really live off of pickles forever?
The cool kids were survivalists. They would name a knife, a sleeping bag and matches.
Or maybe they saw lord of the flies, and would be so cool as to substitute glasses for matches.
They knew nature is brutal, but that’s what made this survival game so fun. Conquering nature. Proving your superiority.
A geek would name their favorite book, and the rest of the kids would laugh
‘what would you do with a book once you’ve read it?’
They would obviously read it again…
At some point technology and digital culture started polluting the answers
Some kid would bring a radio to call for help
Spoiled kids would name their game boy
And then a smarter kid would point out that they’d run out of batteries
Im sure these days they all name their cellphones, they might even have a built in GPS
As time goes by this game does not seem that fun anymore.
I never knew a kid that went as far as naming a solar panel
But some wise ass kid would always say a boat, or a plane
Why the hell would you even go to a deserted island if not by accident? And if it’s an accident you wouldn’t be able to bring anything… idiot!
I went to a little island this summer, it wasnt deserted or anything, and we brought way more than three things with us, but it brought up some memories, some thoughts about survival. At the end of the San Juan Island ring up between seattle and vancouver, Waldron island is a tiny privately owned island that is home to 100 people in peak season. It has an elementary school and a post office and few farms. No public services whatsoever. Everyone get’s their water from wells and catchment, the power from the sun and gas from a tank. The closest thing to a store is a weekly food delivery that comes to the peer by the post office, and the only public land is between high tide and low tide line. Knowing that everyone on this island knows somebody who lives there personally, has made an effort to to cover this distance from the mainstream, makes all the difference in the world.
Waldron is a hop and a jump away from the mainland, meaning, you have to take an hour ride from the mainland on a big ferry and then arrange for a small private boat to take you the extra hour there. All the tourist energy, the SUV’s and the commerce and the glitz, all get left behind at the ferry. The roads are dirt and people ride old trucks when they have to, otherwise they walk or bike. They mostly live a minimal life, according to their available resources, especially if they dont own a boat with which to haul shit over.
It was pretty quiet out there, but not in the traditional sense. The woods in california could easily compete in the pure definition of silence. We actually camped by our friends pond that was full of bullfrogs that pretty much sound like semi-trailers coming at you, honking. Their dad, a biologist originally from the midwest, decided for some reason to introduce this invasive species for apparently pure sentimental reasons, not without the protest of his island neighbors.
It was that kind of place, since the last deers and bears were shot and most of the old growth logged in the 40s, the population of this island has been depleted and nature started coming back, seemingly with a vengeance. The new generations didnt have that kind of explorer vigor of their ancestors, and they didnt share the tourist mentality that the other islands seem to thrive on. This place scored high in the mental distance department. The choice to refuse mainstream culture onto the island, even if only in the most superficial level, made it seem like the most magical piece of land in america. Where the rules of commerce, equality, and justice were slightly altered, and there was nobody who cared to contest it.
Our hosts were the crazy kids on this island. Their mom lived in san francisco and so everytime they’d come back they would bring back with them a piece of city culture, some wacky artsi habit or a phrase. As adults they lived in New York and travelled around, and every year come back to this isolated piece of land to take a break from the world and live a few ‘wild’ months. They built their shacks and structures mostly out of wood they cut down around the property.
They cook on a wooden stove in an open air kitchen with only a roof and one wall. And there between the spices and the jars of grains and spices they hooked up the stereo to the solar panels and blasted radio from vancouver, or sometimes they’d hook up Ben’s laptop there to play music, and between the bullfrogs and the rooster calls, sometimes you would hear windows starting up, or shutting down.