Tales from the Cabin
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Letting Magic Happen

A cabin lover learns to relax

By Kay H Campbell
Published: February 27, 2010
Photo by Kay H Campbell

The trim, middle-aged visitor wearing brand new jeans, a crisp canvas shirt and a Yankees cap pulled the freshly lit cigar from his lips. He grinned and remarked to no one in particular, “Best entertainment I’ve had in a long time!”

We weren’t on a sunlit mountain trail or at a fishing tournament. It was dump day in the small Maine town where we have a cabin. The man and his host were exploring the dump’s swap corner while listening to locals trade news about fishing and moose sightings.

That’s when I decided my husband was right. I should lighten up a bit when we have guests.

Our guests have favorite activities that no tour director could ever imagine. They love visiting a boutique in a geodesic dome, hidden in the woods of a nearby hamlet. They crave our local truck stop’s homemade muffins. They ask to run errands with us by boat. They volunteer to split wood and clean fish. They like to hunt for treasure at the salvage store.

Our visitors usually prefer to take things easy, forgoing Maine’s famous scenic attractions. Some are happiest fishing or kayaking all day. One likes nothing better than to read for hours, settled in an Adirondack chair on the porch. Another gets up early and does yoga on the dock.

I used to feel I had to fill our visitors’ days with activities and excursions. My husband kept telling me to relax and stop acting like the social director on a cruise ship.

Last summer I took his advice. I stopped planning every moment, stopped cooking fancy dinners, and started letting guests sleep late.

At this slower pace, unexpected magic always happens. A double rainbow follows a thunderstorm. A baby loon hatches. A bull moose takes a swim near the dock. Fireflies light the forest.

Guests tell us that no visit is complete without a trip to the woodfloored general store where they’ll sell you a fur pelt with your chips, then weigh and tag your moose or bear. Where they keep the crawlers next to the dairy products. Where they might forget to check your eggs for broken shells, but they always check your crawlers to be sure they’re alive and squirming!

I still worry that my menu plans won’t work, that the fish will stop biting, the days will be soggy with rain, and that no one will see a moose. Yet, each time guests wave goodbye from the end of the driveway, I’m grateful for the unexpected fun that always seems to come our way when we slow down enough to let the cabin work its magic.

Kay Hardy Campbell practices porch therapy and the art of relaxed hosting with her husband at their cabin in the northern Maine woods.  

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