There's a Porcupine in My Outhouse: Misadventures of a Mountain Man Wannabe

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9780978576622: There's a Porcupine in My Outhouse: Misadventures of a Mountain Man Wannabe

Winner of Nature Book of the Year from the Independent Publishers Association, this is a humorous, thought-provoking account of one man's struggle to acclimate to primitive life in Vermont. In the tradition of Bill Bryson, syndicated columnist and author Michael Tougias shares the hilarious tales of his transformation from a naïve flatlander into an accomplished outdoor writer coping with—and learning to love—a little piece of wilderness in New England.

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About the Author:

Michael Tougias is the bestselling author of 20 books on New England, including 10 Hours Until DawnThe Blizzard of '78Exploring the Hidden CharlesFatal ForecastThe Finest HoursGood Night VermontQuabbin: A History and Explorers Guide, and River Days: Exploring the Connecticut River. He lives in Franklin, Massachusetts.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

In 1978, when I was twenty-two, I spent $8500 on a tiny A-frame cabin and six acres of land overlooking a pond in Northern Vermont. I thought I would live out my mountain-man fantasy that had been planted from reading adventure books as a kid. I would be Jim Bridger, Daniel Boone, and Lewis and Clark all rolled into one, knowing exactly what to do in every outdoor situation. I fancied myself as lord and master of my six acres. My very first act as a landowner was to go out and chop down a tree.

Now some 23 years later, I look back at those early years at the cabin and realize I had it backward. I haven’t controlled the land or conquered it, but instead I’ve been humbled by what I learned about nature, even though I’ve barely begun to understand its rhythms and many mysteries. This ramshackle cabin has been a kind of university for my outdoor education, although I am far from graduating. I think I will be a life-long student—but grateful for each and every lesson which I had no idea was coming. I’ve had encounters with wildlife from bears to bats, friendships with life-hardened locals and neophyte flatlanders, terror at being lost in the woods, moments that require true ingenuity, and a greater awareness of that incredible commodity—time. Time to explore the natural world and time to reflect inward, questioning paths chosen.

It didn’t occur to me to write a book about the cabin and my observations until I started to get letters from readers of my weekly outdoor column. Normally, I’d rarely hear from readers but whenever I wrote about the cabin I’d invariably receive several letters. They would encourage me to write more about my "shack on the mountain" and the adventures and misadventures that occurred. Some readers even wrote asking if they could rent the cabin, saying they wanted a vacation that involved roughing it, that they liked the idea of an outhouse! After I received dozens of these notes, I took a look at my cabin’s guestbook and journal and decided to tell the story of the first few years at the cabin. This book is a chronicle of growth during my twenties, mistakes I made along the way, and my evolution from the concept of "conquering" the land to one of stewardship. I wrote it with a light touch because some of the things I did are a bit embarrassing, and now that I’m in my late forties I’ve learned to go easy on myself. Hopefully, you will too.

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