A family of 5 makes a conscious decision to disconnect, in order to reconnect.
Suzanne Crocker has done what many people dream of doing, but likely never will. Several years ago, she and her husband Gerard Parsons packed up their three young children (ages 10, 8, and 4), left the comforts of home and careers, and headed 150 kilometers (93 miles) into the bush. For nine months, they lived in a remote cabin in Yukon territory, northwestern Canada, with no running water, electricity, Internet, or even clocks and watches. They wanted to unplug in the most dramatic of ways.
“To get the freedom of time again we had to free ourselves from the structure of time and see what would happen.”
Crocker, a former physician turned documentary-maker, tells the story of her family’s adventure in a quietly stunning film called “All the Time in the World.” It shows their arrival in early fall, when they work for days to transport their food and equipment from a boat in the river by canoe to the shoreline, then haul it up a hill to the cabin. They must build a ‘cache’, a food shed on tall stilts to prevent bears from reaching it. They fix up the cabin in preparation for winter.
Initially, I had assumed that a nine-month adventure in the bush would purposely try to avoid the coldest months of the year, but instead the family embraced the loneliness and extreme isolation of the long, dark northern winter. In fact, once the ice froze solid on the river, they described it as liberating – being able to skate, ski, snowshoe, and snowmobile freely.
It wasn’t all fun, though. When the temperature plunged to -51 Celsius (-60F), it was pretty much impossible to go outside, and cabin fever set in; but the kids, who were homeschooled that year, showed remarkable resilience and creativity when it came to entertaining themselves.
The film is narrated by the entire family, and the children share some beautiful insights. Kate, age 8, said, “Inside is our storage place, but outside is actually our home.” She also pointed out that half the day is spent preparing food, since everything had to made from scratch and cooked on a wood-burning cook stove. The diet quickly became monotonous, the 10-year-old son said, but whenever their dad came back from an occasional visit to town, he brought fresh fruit, which the kids devoured instantly.
One of my favorite parts was Crocker describing her mental shift from always saying, “Not right now” to her kids, to saying “Sure, let’s do it.” Kids come up with so many crazy and interesting schemes, and yet, in ordinary life, there rarely seems to be a convenient time to implement them; there’s always something more practical for us adults to be doing. But when parents start saying “yes,” amazing things happen, like the dug-out snow fort and a tepee covered in evergreen boughs Suzanne and Gerard built with their kids – because they had all the time in the world, quite literally.
“Inside is our storage place, but outside is actually our home.” -- Kate, age 8
Very little background is given on the family. The viewer does not know where they come from or, really, who they are, although it’s obvious they have extensive experience in the bush. The parents’ confidence with manipulating axes and hatchets, building the cache, paddling a canoe, navigating the bush, and handling an unwanted visit from a hungry bear suggest that Gerard and Suzanne have spent a fair bit of time in the wilderness.
When “All the Time in the World” toured international film festivals in 2015, it won 19 awards, including Audience Choice, Best Picture, Social Justice, and Environmental Awards. It has received rave reviews from newspapers across the continent and endorsements from leaders such as David Suzuki. It is a wonderful, family-friendly film that will inspire you – if not to give up urban life temporarily, then at the very least to start taking time for the things that really matter in life.
(After watching it this weekend, my husband went outside and built a snow fort with our kids, complete with an evergreen roof. Then they sat inside and boiled tea on the camp stove. The film is already influencing our family life!)
You can order the DVD online or arrange a public screening in your community. More information available on website. View trailer below.