Into the Woods
We’d pack the car after my dad returned from work – a family of weekend warriors headed north. The three hour drive was punctuated by several notable landmarks: the state prison, the outlet mall, the hamburger place, the life-size lawn chair, fireworks, suicidal deer and – finally – the cabin.
I could never describe how to get there in great detail. Take County Road T until you hear the whispering pines and smell the chilli cheese dip. Something like that.
When you’re just a kid, it’s hard to fully appreciate the things you have. Now that I’m older, I’ve come to the conclusion that it was rather extraordinary for five families to meet at a cabin in the woods and dress up like pirates. Every summer. Every month. For the first eighteen years.
Shared spaces are sacred places that take on a life of their own. The collection of VHS tapes slowly evolves from Disney classics into an eclectic assortment of low budget horror films. Before you know it, the board game shelf is home to three variations of Monopoly and no dice. The lakeshore becomes buried beneath inflatable remains. A popped waterslide here, a washed out fun-noodle there. Nothing is ever in its right place and everything is at the same time.
You eventually learn that there is no perfect television-viewing angle. Your head will be awkwardly kinked while watching The Creature From The Black Lagoon. But a storm will roll in and the power will cease to exist. In its absence, we play a game called mosquito, a more thrilling and spooky derivative of traditional hide and seek. Don’t get bit.
No wall is left uncovered. The stuffed fish head is a reminder of that one time I went fishing and didn’t catch a goldfish. The dreamcatcher sits patiently waiting to collect dreams. The bulletin board predates Instagram, but its pushpin news feed is alive and well. Forever a place in progress.
Here, there are no rules. But if it’s yellow, you’re supposed to let it mellow. And don’t even think about cutting the cabin bars with a spoon.
You wouldn’t guess that this safe haven for knickknacks and hand-me-downs is also a harbor for the soul. A three hour drive, the night sky, and that fresh cabin water is all it takes. Out of the city and into the woods. These trees are magic and their spirits are high.