Lessons From The Cabin
NOW makes memories to cherish LATER
December 1, 2007
It came into my life at the perfect time, in ninth grade, when I was ripe for learning. My folks afforded it bit by bit over a period of years. First the land, soon the frame. Later the guts of wall studs, electrical cable and water pipes. Eventually the trimmings were added to a place we simply came to call “The Cabin.”
Photo by Scott Stowell
There’s no teacher like experience. Learning a cabin inside and out from a young age will qualify anyone for a doctorate in Cabin Studies, a lesser-known degree that integrates shop classes with psych departments.
Cabin Studies begin with one’s simple, but treasured memories – like returning to The Cabin at dusk from a day in the woods, making my way across a blanket of fall leaves so crunchy I smell them, so florescent I swear they radiate heat, then spotting the porch light down hill, its orange glow that says “welcome home.”
I remember the time spent in my youth cutting, hauling and splitting firewood under my dad’s watchful eye – from his chaise on the deck. To a ninth-grade boy, the fascination of a chainsaw in hand has power beyond fuel and oil.
People are, of course, part of the treasured memories too. Etched in my mind are misty morning walks down a pine-scented lane while holding the hand of the girl I eventually married. These stories are sappier than the evergreens that provoked them perhaps, but no less real.
Of course, Cabin Studies is not all kisses from a sweetheart and warm, soft-focus memories. There’s the far less romantic stuff, those experiences that create a stout, well-rounded soul. I’m talking about dealing with major storms, snow plowing, power outages, leaky pipes, settling foundations, critter incursions and more.
By necessity, my special area of study over the years has been plumbing – specifically, repairing frozen water pipes. I’ve re-pieced and reglued every inch of those crawlspace intestines more times than I can count. You could say I’ve become something of an artist. When it comes to purple pipe dope, French impressionists have nothing on me.
Storms also can create a lot of work for the cabin owner, but there’s a bittersweet side to this. I must admit there is no better place to savor a storm than from inside The Cabin. The deluges of snow brought by many winters have offered me the only excuse I needed to go absolutely nowhere.
Snow’s artistic counterpart is rain. Rain uses sound to set the mood. And it has always gotten to me, especially in the loft, where muffled droplets patting roof shingles sink me into dreamless sleep.
Throughout my life, some of the most enjoyable writing I have ever done was at The Cabin. There is no phone to distract, no television. When I’m in the thick of writing there, ideas somehow come to me that are not entirely of my doing. It is seclusion without being alone; nurturing at its finest.
So it’s the solace of The Cabin that has enabled me the contemplative time and space I’ve needed for completing my Cabin Studies degree.
Back to the present – my wife and I batten down the hatches to weather an early winter storm. Staring into fireplace flames mesmerizes us as we talk. Gradually, it occurs to us that later has arrived and that now makes memories for later.
The seclusion of Scott Stowell's cabin has offered him the opportunity to explore his inner-plumber, while pondering the meaning of cabin life.