you do not have to have a grand house to have a full heart

I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.  thomas jefferson

Do you think differently when you are there?  That was one of the questions that Tom Ashbrook asked of his guest. His show today was about the summer shack, the summer cabin and the memories or the dreams and desires that it enveloped. It prompted many of my own visions past and current.

As I sit on my porch, rocking and listening to the radio, i can not help but feel  connected to the earth and sky around me.  The lake is a muted rosy red, the trees across the lake are covered in a light fog and are bluish. Then a band of purplish clouds blends into the sky that is the same rose color as the lake.  The radio show ends with a quote from one of the guest on the show.  “You do not have to have a grand house to have a full heart.”

I can recall a summer, it might have been 1952 or 1953.  My Dad worked in the textile mills and the only vacation he got was when the mill closed down for the 4th of July.  We drove to the White Mountains and that must have been the start of my love affair with small cabins and cottages and get-aways of all sorts.  I remember that there were six or eight small cabins.  It could not have been more that a 12 X 14 shack with a little flower box under the window and several summer chairs in front of the cabin and a few picnic tables on the grounds.  I met a little boy my age and we played.  I know that there was a metal sand sifter involved and maybe a few toy trucks.

My Grandmother watched over us while we played.  She might have been reading a book, but i am not really sure of that.  What I am sure of is the feeling of pure joy, the feeling of everything being right with the world because everyone was so happy.  The red Coca-Cola cooler  had a handle that came over the top and snapped the lid shut.  There was an aluminum meat and cheese keeping tray and the ice and the sodas and the milk were under the tray.

We ate cold foods, like meats and sandwiches and fruit and cookies and I don’t think we stayed very many nights.  I can see the cabin and my grandmother as clearly as if it were yesterday.  My mother loved small cabins and always said she wished she had had a shack in the woods rather that the cape that my father bought for us to live in in 1950. It must have registered with Dad because he and my uncles built a screen cabin in the back yard that year.

The cabin had a name. The Night Owl, is what Dad stenciled above the old wooden screen door that slammed shut with one of those spring latches that was so loud you could hear it clear into the church parking lot. The studding came from the mill.  It was oiled soaked studs that must have been used to crate heavy machinery.  My God, were they smelly. I bet sixty years later and they are still smelly and standing.  Nothing but a fire could have destroyed them.  The roof was covered in asphalt tiles and it was painted the same green color as the house.  Dad ran an electric wire from the cellar to the cabin so we could have a radio in the little shack.  Later he dug a trench and properly wired it, and in time he put an old television in there and we spent our summer nights in the back yard, my mother pretending we were away on vacation.

Earlier this evening when I was listening to the radio show about summer shacks and the romance of a cabin in the woods, on a lake or near a river, i mused at the fact that I had one.  I got my mother’s dream and I have  her cabin in the woods.  And, though it took a whole generation to manifest it–i know she would have loved it here.

Do you think differently when you are there?  That was one of the questions that Tom Ashbrook, the host of the radio show, asked of his guest.

I don’t think with the same part of my mind when I am in my cottage.   I think the feeling of safety comes from being so close to nature.  The little dirt road, the no street lights, the sound of the water lapping the shore and the song birds in early morning and the peepers at night.  They all converge on my senses and give me the feeling that I have all that I need.  I am not so intruded upon by my narcissistic ego when I am here.  The continuum of consciousness is not separated as it is when I am needing to use my egoic mind to solve problems.  When I am home the cabin envelopes me. It is a womb like room with so few unnatural sounds that I think there is not much more than what is here to be wanted from he universe.

How am I different when I am at the cabin?  In a word, I am satisfied.

I have an ego that can rape me with its envy.  I can be torn apart over feelings of lack–but when it is night time and the darkness covers everything in sight and the breeze rustles through the leaves and the lake water sends a cooling smell into the house, i am one with the heavens.  When I get to the country after being in town for a few days, my soul sings and my mind stops needing more.  Even the sun sets more blazingly here at the lake.

One thought on “you do not have to have a grand house to have a full heart

  1. Denise Ackerman

    Every thing you wrote I know to be true,however the journy seems so far away and yet it is here I just need to stop and listen.

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