The Cabin

"The second key, you will build in the trees."

It was decided.  We were going to build a cabin; a full scale log cabin way back in the bush, and it was going to be fantastic.  It would be built from the trees on the land, felled, bucked and notched with nothing but axes, saws, and our own sweat.   We were three:  John (our fearless leader), brother Jamie and myself - three young teenagers, full of snot, vinegar, and ‘Yahoo! Carpe Diem!’

We planned, we discussed and we measured; far into the night.  Then one day, all of a sudden, there we were - standing at the chosen spot in that dense raincoast forest, axes in hand, all thinking the same thing: “Brother, this is going to be a bigger job than we figured”.  

First of all, it was unclear how we were going to get the logs to the site.  We were reasonably strong kids, but these logs were big -  hemlocks, red cedars and firs, many of which were 18 inches in diameter.  A spar tree, blocks and tackle, and a line maybe?

The whole business started with an exuberant John barging into the basement with that look on his face -  the one that said, “Due to the overwhelming excitement I am experiencing at the moment, it might be impossible for me to organize the language long enough to croak out my message.”   

Inevitably though, the words came tumbling out:  “Virgin forest, the whole area.  The old trail wasn’t easy to follow.  I had to crawl through devils club and brambles.  I had to slither on my belly like a snake and sneak past this guard shack.  We have to go back up there.  We have explore this place.”

Kids from the banks of the Tyne, that’s what we were, and western Canada was heaven, in a Viking sort of way.  And now that the gates to heaven were open, we weren’t going back.  We were going to explore this forbidden country, climb its mountains, forge its mighty rivers and yes, build a cabin way back where normal mortals could not follow.  

Because simply getting there would be a trial, requiring a hike through dense bush, a wade through waist deep icy water, and a bushwack through rain forest to the secret location where we would build the log cabin to end all log cabins.
 
So, with the decision made, we got to work.  We cut with axes, we cut with saws, we hoisted, slung, notched and fitted.  And we set up those spar trees, with cables, pulleys, blocks and tackle.  We weren’t messing around.  The walls rose a foot at a time.  Planks for a floor appeared, then we started on the rafters.  


Visions of us sitting around a rustic table, in front of a roaring fire, clutching beer steins and toasting our Viking lives, danced in our heads as we toiled.  And I don’t believe they ever left.

Then we discovered girls,  and somehow the roof never quite got built.  Still, in the end, it made no difference.  That cabin had become a part of our DNA, and the building of it changed our lives forever.

We live in a chaotic universe, and I suspect we spend a lot of time attempting to create meaning in this strange, unpredictable place.  That’s not always an easy task, so being handed the gift of a path (or, in my case, two paths) was a lifesaver.  A guitar in a trash can?  An insatiable drive to build a cabin in the bush?  I would have had to be an idiot to miss those signs.  The only question remaining was how to combine these two loves with some kind of grace.