Septic Simple: Life in a Boler




This winter 2 friends visited us from St. Boniface–Gisèle & JP. They arrived in a wonderful little RV (although they call it a trailer saying that “RV” is too grand a word for what they have).  But what they have is all they need. It is small but easy to tow.

The Boler trailer is made out of fiberglass not plastic.  It is the grand daddy of the fiberglass clones that followed it. The original was invented by a person from Manitoba who noticed that a fiberglass septic tank could be converted to an RV (or trailer if you like). Think about that towing and living in a septic tank!  Of course their Boler was never used as a septic tank. It is pristine.

Gisèle & JP are wonderful and interesting people. They meander.  They tour around the southern USA for as long as they like each winter since they retired. They usually have no firm plans, except this year there was a convention of Boler owners north of Phoenix.  People who like Boler trailers from around North America  got together to celebrate their temporary homes. They are small but convenient.

Most owners of Boler trailers think (like me) that small is beautiful.  Frankly, when I see people driving honking huge RVs and then often with a car or even SUV or truck behind that, I feel sorry for them. It reminds me of some things Henry David Thoreau said. “Most the of luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only dispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts the wisest have ever lived a more simplified life than the poor. None, can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty. ”

Voluntary poverty is not what most of us aspire to. I don’t even say that this is the goal of JP and Gisèle, but we can all profit from a more simple life.  Thoreau said to be a philosopher one must “love wisdom and to live according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust.” Thoreau felt sorry for “that seemingly wealthy but most terribly impoverished class of all, who have accumulated dross, but know not how to use it, or get rid of it, and thus have forged their own golden or silver fetters.” Thoreau said  houses what could just as easily be said of RVs, “when the farmer has got his house, he may not be the richer but the poorer for it, and it be the house that has got him…for our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.”

Thoreau loved his life in a little cabin that he built near Walden Pond. One day he was visited by a well-meaning lady who offered him a mat, but Thoreau declined it, because “I had no room to spare within the house, nor time to spare without to shake it.” He preferred to wipe his feet on the sod outside the shack. “It is best to avoid the beginnings of evil,” he said.

Thoreau believed that people were possessed by their possessions. I think he meant that in the most serious sense of “possessed.” “The more you have of such things the poorer you are.” Or as he also said, “Men have become tools of their tools.”

Thoreau was happy and content. He had time to devote to more important things—the things he really wanted to do. Such as inspecting snowstorms, birds and flowers.  Personally I would substitute sunsets for snowstorms. Thoreau bragged, “my greatest skill is to want but little.” I think JP and Gisèle have that skill. I wish I had more of it. They also had what Vicky Robbin called a “high joy to stuff ratio.” I would like that too. They know how to live the good life.

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