It is the first of a New Year and Hub has spent so much time in his cabin the past few days that he is looking more like Grizzly Adams than anyone else. But this morning he cracked open that new razor he got for Christmas and sheered down the forest before he came to the kitchen for coffee.
So when the newly shorn Hub came to the table for coffee – he looked g-o-od! And so in keeping with a 2009 positive attitude, I scratched D.O.G.’s belly and told him he was a funny boy and rubbed Hub’s neck and ears and told him he was a handsome boy. Hub laughed and said he was glad I noticed and then just when I was congratulating myself on that positive opener for the New Year, I was sailing down that slippery slope, where I usually bide, into puzzlement and analysis.
‘Did I get that right? Which is the funny boy? Which is the handsome boy? Gee, maybe D.O.G. is the handsome boy and maybe Hub is the funny boy?’
You see the problem is, in my mind, if you don’t understand it and don’t get it right, you better give it some more thought. Cause you know what happens. If I don’t think about things I will look stupid, feel stupid, other people will know I am stupid. Can’t be behaving or be having that.
And so that brings us to the next analysis. As I told you previously Hub has renovated an old granary that he pulled into the back yard into a rustic cabin.
Visitors come. They fold themselves into the fascination of it all, but at the same time, despite valiant efforts to disguise their reactions I see eye rolls, shoulder nudges, and knee contacts under the table that indicate they really are wondering. Wondering if we are okay. Wondering why we do what we do.
So for the sake of being able to articulate rational reasons without the faintest echo of stupidity or senility, I am going to try and explain it to you.
What I need to try to explain is our new game. We call it ‘Playing Cabin’. To play it you must have a cabin with a dishpan, a teakettle, a towel rack, and a wood-burning stove. And so, the game begins.
And this is how you ‘play cabin’.
First of all – it is a lengthy game so we usually start in the morning. To begin, the basic necessity is fire. So first Hub and I cut kindling, chop wood, rumple paper. Then we artfully stack and interlace this mix in the firebox and strike a match to it. Then we debate, when the initial flare weakens to a wee spark if our efforts need to be fanned or left alone.
In turns we fan the fire, rearrange it, remove or add more wood, blow on it – I practice patience, Hub practices faith and eventually we have a roaring fire that sucks the smoke up the chimney rather than folding it back into the room. That is intrigue number one. Level one of ‘playing cabin’ reached and conquered. Whew! That level was a bit of challenge.
Now we fill the old coffeepot and commence another debate about which is the hotter part of the stove. Hub skids the pot here, I skid it there. And eventually we both agree that it should be moved more here than there.
Now we relax again and practice patience and faith. Soon the pot hums ever so gently than gradually – ever so gradually – the hum increases until we hear the happy little plop of the first perk. Soon after the hum breaks into a joyful railroad-steamer crescendo and quick plopping, perking sounds.
We listen to the music and it is delightful. We take down our blue granite cups and pour ourselves a cuppa – and man that coffee is so good. A healing tonic for the chill of wood chopping, a warm cleansing throat wash for the smothering intake of smoke while nursing those first flames, and a restorative for our objectives in our ‘playing cabin game’. We sip coffee that is hotter and better. And then we turn on the old radio and relax in a certain amount of childhood nostalgia coupled with the accomplishment of level two.
Now Hub makes bacon and eggs in the old cast iron – slow sizzled and really tasty. I toast buns on the stove-top while warming our socks in the oven. Our meal is manna for the gods, in a nest of the special soul-healing warmth that only a wood fire can give.
Then we put more wood on the fire, draw more water and put the old teakettle on the hot part of the stove and wait for it to sing its own unique tune as water is heated for washing up. And now we do dishes – with some kind of stupid delight even in that process. We are now progressing nicely. We have reached level three.
To complete this level we chop more wood, bring it in, or stack it in the woodbox outside the door. Sweep up, do the dishes, get fresh water, arrange our few worldly possessions in good order and we are ready for level four.
Level four brings out the coffee still piping hot from the back of the stove, radio down low, and a long session of silence and contemplation about why we do what we do. We move to the chesterfield in a silken contented way and the puppies go into happy dormancy around us on the cabin floor.
And so now, from the contemplation I have done on this matter, I have concluded that although playing cabin is a challenging game with the many levels of accomplishment I have told you, it remains a simple life without layers. (I think one can have levels without layers).
Yes, it is obvious, this is a non-layered existence. That’s what holds the key to the enjoyment of ‘playing cabin’. It is similar, but so much better than time out in a fishing boat, walking on a beach or 18 holes of golf. It remains one of those few small niches in this complex world where there is no economy, no bills, no phone calls, no concerns about anything except food and shelter.
Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you. Another reason we do it is because a voice came to Hub as a voice came to Noah. Not out of the sky, but out of the TV, and another from the radio, and another from various neighbors. The voices said, “The economy will be fully destroyed and the world, as we know it, will crash in its wake. It may not happen today, it may not happen tomorrow, but it will happen.”
And Hub, like Noah said, “Then to preserve my family, I will build a cabin (now how many cubits was it supposed to be?). And Roberta and I and our puppies will go in two by two (maybe one by one – the door is only 27” wide) and we will be saved.”
Hub insists this cabin-ark of his will float safely though any economic storm or draught of heat and light. And if that is not the case, it is still our salvation. A life-preserving haven far removed from the risks associated with the daily stresses of ‘layered living’. And in addition to that, a place that shelters us from those other stresses that cause hardening of the heart, soul, conscience, good will and gratefulness.
So now I need to know. Are you convinced after reading this rant that there is nothing wrong? Will our visitors understand and be convinced? Or, are you rolling your eyes in dismay as you return to your Wii game, ‘The Sims’, the stock market, or another of the many games that others play?