This 64-year-old describes why he chose to live house-free in Alaska

Joe Ford is a self-described "64-year-old navy veteran of the Vietnam era and houseless in the tundra." He wrote for The Guardian about what its like to live in Alaska without a permanent house. It sounds tough, but he loves it. I recently watched a good movie with my family called Leave No Trace, and the dad in the movie reminds me a bit of Mr. Ford.

All in all, though, I prefer a campfire-roasted porcupine that I killed and butchered (recently, one who had smacked my dog with his tail, embedding 15 quills in the mutt's snout), slathered with highbush cranberry ketchup, foraged chickweed salad with mushrooms on the side, a hot cup of stinging nettle tea to wash it down and a handful of wild blueberries for dessert.

Bugs, sticks, sand and assorted forest floor debris sometimes makes it into my vittles but, as the family I encountered in my travels through Canada some years back said when I pointed out that their kid was eating dirt: "It's clean dirt." And the bugs are protein! Anyway, I get to devour the feast creekside watching fish sex. No, it's not the latest Netflix series, it's actual salmon spawning in the water 10ft from my tent.

My living room floor gets a fresh gold carpet when fall colors take over and the tree branches go bare. Daylight starts fading fast closing in on the autumnal equinox and stays in decline till winter solstice, bottoming out at around five and a half hours here. So, I use rechargeable LEDs (a gift from a friend) to read and write by and a headlamp for more active endeavors like ice fishing or splitting firewood.

My toilet is a hollow cottonwood stump and I bathe with a kettle of hot creek water. Some places along the highway offer showers but they cost money and contribute to ecocide, so I clean my crotch in the creek occasionally. But personal hygiene is not a priority. I have dirt under my fingernails, belly button lint, maybe some toejam. I often smell like wood smoke from my campfires. My cologne: eau de burnt alder. Instead of washing my clothing – layers come cheap from thrift shops – I air it out, hanging it on a tree branch for a snowstorm or two, then turn it inside out and put it back into rotation.

Image: GidonPico/Pixabay