Biffies aren’t all bad

Sometimes a joke works to get a point across.
Such was the case when a young man visited our cabin while home from college.
“Can I have lots of cheese?” he asked smiling, and yet with a tone of desperation.
This question was in response to my announcement that he’d have to use the outhouse instead of the indoor compost toilet because one of the pipes from our indoor facility was frozen solid.
So for the rest of the weekend, he ate about a pound of cheese and mercilessly was subjected to my defending remarks about how outhouses aren’t all that bad.
Because, really, men shouldn’t complain about these facilities given the number of times they actually need to sit down.
Besides, outhouses offer an experience from history which won’t be around for all that much longer. As I told our friend, these quirky little buildings (which used to be behind every church, school, country store, and train station in the district) soon will join the ranks of the dinosaurs.
Currently I know of a few people who are replacing them with septic fields.
Think about it—no more biffy, backhouse, privy, or loo as they are affectionately called. And it’s such a symbol of our great Canadian cabin culture.
One thing I like best about them is the tacky décor. Ours, for example, has red curtains, fancy little pictures on the wall, and toilet paper stored in an old whisky ice box that’s covered in gold monarch symbols (although a coffee can would do just as well).
Other people I know have wallpapered outhouses, and another family still has an old corn box which, at some time, was used to store husks—nature’s way of making toilet paper.
My favourite outhouse, however, is a neighbour’s which is a gleaming log three-seater (obviously meant for company) decorated with flowers and doilies. It’s so sparkling clean you’d think it’s where tea is served.
All these outhouses, when they finally rot, will not be replaced. As much as they are less damaging than a leaky septic tank, there are better ways to treat waste than letting it leach into the ground.
However, while there’s the opportunity, there’s a simple pleasure about the little place out back where you can enjoy the sounds of birds and squirrels while perched with the door open to natural splendor.
It’s a small price to pay for all the perks of cabin life.
Even our visitor with the slowed down digestive system agreed (at least after listening to me) that the outhouse looks like an inviting retreat.

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