EVERY sunny morning after I feed the chickens, I go out to hang my bath water on the south end of the house. By 5 or 6 o'clock, I'll take it (in its solar-heated, plastic, 5-gallon bag) to hang from an overhead rafter on the porch running the west side of my lodge above Sanpoil River in northwestern Washington State and shower. As I stand barefoot on the rough 2-by-6-inch planks of the porch and shampoo my hair, a Bewick wren lights at the far end of the covered porch and sings, sharing my daily warm-weather joy ... for it has just done a rain dance in the birdbath on its pine-stump pedestal out front of my lodge.
Warm water runs all over me and, from my feet, down through cracks between the planks ... and, cooling in under-porch shade, out to where mock-orange bushes bloom white, yellow-stamened fragrance on 100-degree F. air.
Looking west, across Sanpoil River running down the canyon below, I see mountains of the Kettle River range rise, as they do on all sides ... edges of the cup in which sits my lodge and its surrounding ponderosa pine, yellow pine, Douglas fir-thronged wilderness acres. Not pristine wilderness but, to me, enough so.
All of Ferry County has a stable population of 6,100 (according to Washington Almanac), averaging one person for every 2 square miles, according to a Ferry County agricultural agent.
It's a mile north on the Sanpoil River to my nearest neighbors; almost a mile south; maybe 15 miles over the mountains eastward to Frosty Meadows and maybe 20 miles over the mountains westward to people living north of Grand Coulee Dam.
In all the intersticial spaces, just bald eagles and other birds, black bear, mule and white-tailed deer, elk, and the solitary likes of ``Cougar Sam'' Miller, out hunting.
Coulee Dam was once the first, now the second-greatest hydroelectric power producer on earth, so it's only ``fitting'' that, 33 miles away from it, electricity should be beyond buying.
And it's right to let the sun warm bath water. This can't happen all year round, but a water tub atop the wood stove will do fine for winter.
When I go out front to eat supper at my sturdy picnic table, built of western red cedar to Forest Service specifications, a western bluebird flies in to take its ablution in the lava-rock birdbath on top of a pine stump just beyond the table's far edge. The blue of its back and wings takes my breath away.
Another day, mother bluebird brings the first-out-of-the-nest chick to introduce it to birdbath drinking and bathing while the male watches from an elderberry tree just beyond.
You can't beat bathing with the birds.