Tales from the Cabin
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Cabinitis: Winter Revelry

Enjoying the cabin in cold weather? You bet!
By Lars F
Published: February 1, 2006
Photo by dreamstime.com
I know a lot of people used to regard their cabin time as pretty much a summertime experience.  
They viewed winter as a time to reminisce about the good times and to make plans for the good times to come next summer.  
That’s all well and good, but I can’t help but feel that many people are missing out on a wonderful part of the cabin experience in the wintertime. And this comes from a cabin owner in the far, far northern United States.
Like many people, when I first purchased my cabin I would shut it down for the winter. I would drain the water, shut off the heat and wait for spring.  
Then, some years ago, I got ambitious and completely skirted and insulated the underside of my cabin and installed LP gas heaters in the crawl space to provide heat. I then installed a heated water line and a few additional heaters in the cabin – and wound up creating a year-round vacation home.

Oh joy! Over the course of a few seasons, I realized that I actually enjoyed my cabin more in the winter than in the summer. The summers were great, but the winters were even better because the cabin, the lake and the surrounding area became almost totally mine. And the joy of lounging in front of a crackling fireplace while snow is falling outside is a memory in the making. Throw in the absence of mosquitoes and I’m a convert!
I also found that winter clothing has become so efficient that cold has very little effect. You can literally take a nap in the snow while wearing clothes that weigh only a couple pounds. Good-bye to all the bulky layers my generation had to wear when we were children.  
Another thing I find remarkable is how much more reliable snowmobiles are today than they were in the past. I own two machines that can climb mountains and have enough power that slush on lakes is no longer the terrible dread it used to be. (If you have never driven a snowmobile into frozen slush on a lake at 30 degrees below zero, you don’t know what true horror is!) In earlier days, our joke was that you drove your snowmobile for an hour and then spent the next hour repairing it. Nowadays, snow machines are so much more reliable.
And that’s good, because in many cabin settings in the wintertime, a snowmobile is a primary means of transportation.

What’s the secret? Is it difficult to bring a northern cabin up to wintertime standards? Well, it is a fair amount of work. But all the investment that I made in time and labor is paying large dividends today.
The key factor is proper insulation. Once that is done, everything else becomes possible. And it doesn’t have to be all done at one time. You can add the other amenities like additional heat and a wintertime water supply as you go along.
If you insulate well, you will find you’ve increased the enjoyment of your cabin immensely. And you will be able to enjoy wintertime revelry at your cabin. It’s worth it.
Just to go for a quiet walk down a deserted trail in winter is a source of wonder. As I tell all my friends, in the winter months the silence is deafening!
If a chickadee makes a noise a mile away, the sound literally carries to you. And at night I can hear the howl of wolves in the distance. You won’t hear that so clearly in the summer! 

Lars F. has refused the 12-step plan to control his cabinitis. Only his first name is used to protect his identity.
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