Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Cabinette

This deer was a little startled when we came upon her with our camera

A while back, I had written a story and posted amongst these pages, something where I made reference to a place called The Cabinette. The Cabinette was the small two room cabin we lived in when we were up in Ashland, WI, along the shores of the big beautiful Great Lake Superior. Someone wrote a comment and said they’d like to hear more about The Cabinette. Now being armed with a request, well I couldn’t just let that sit there unattended to, could I? I mean it’s hard enough to write and hope that someone will pass through, read, comment and actually enjoy the story. When someone actually asks for it, well, the flood gates open and here I am. Ready willing and eager to comply.
We were living in Ashland in an old storefront that I used as a workshop and studio. This place had living quarters built in. We left there in a whirlwind when we had an argument with the landlord. We then moved to this little white house on 4th Street, but we knew that was just a stop along life’s journey.
One day, I was with my friend Curtis. He mentioned going off and finding a place either in the woods or along the lakeshore, where we could be alone in nature and talk. He told me he had this friend that rented this cabin and that he’d talk to him and see if his friend would mind if we went out there and sat by the water’s edge.

The shoreline view from the front yard of The Cabinette in Spring

His friend didn’t have any problem with us being out there, so we went the five miles from the center of town, down Johnson Road, and along the driveway to this little cabin. It sat right on the lakeshore. The view of Chequamegon (Cha-wah’-meg-on) Bay was beautiful. I asked, “Who lives here?”
Curtis told me that one of the people that works at the bakery rents the place, but that he was moving out. He told me this place has been a rental for years and he knew the owner. I asked for the owners name and looked up his phone number. I told Curtis to tell the guy living there and the landlord that I wanted to rent this cabin when the current resident moved out.
At first, my interest was in having a place to go to that was right on the shore of the magnificent Lake Superior. The cabin had no running water, but there was a submersible well out in the yard. There was an outhouse and a nice size kitchen with an electric cooking stove, cabinets, room for a table and a woodstove big enough to heat a castle!

We made many of these Inukshuks along the shore and collected a lot of  beautiful rocks
The place was in the woods with tall pines all around. Birch, maple and oak too. And the lake. The view, with solitude. Having a place like this to go to just for a chance to get away would be well worth paying the rent. At first, I had no intention of actually living there full time. I mean there was no running water or inside plumbing. Heating this place in Winter would mean gathering firewood by some means, or buying it, loading it, unloading it, stacking it, hauling it into the cabin, hauling the ashes out and sweeping the chimney, not to mention the newspaper, kindling and the starting and keeping of a fire 24/7 in the colder times of the year.

The lakeside firepit at The Cabinette, ready to light
Push came to shove and I called the landlord. No one answered the phone, so I left a message. He never returned my call. I tried again, still no return call. I asked around and found no information. The guy who was living there was ready to move out. No one knew if the place was rented and a new tenant would be moving in. I had a trip planned, so I left town and was gone for 15 days. We were comfortable in the little white house on 4th Street for the time being anyway.

The little white house we lived in before moving to The Cabinette
When I got back from the trip, over two weeks since I placed the call to the landlord, I got a call with an apology for not getting back to me sooner. The guys name is Tony and he told me he owned the cabin, and since I was the first call he received to rent it, I could rent it if I wanted it. I thought, “This is too cool. It’s meant to be.”

View of the yard during a Winter snowfall
I paid security deposit and took possession. We gathered up the family and all went out to see the cabin. It was October and a little cool, so we started a fire in the big woodstove. We sat around out by the lakeshore and wandered around the land. There was about five acres.

Enjoying some Autumn sun along the shore
We loved the place and didn’t want to leave. The Grandkids went home, but we spent the night and woke up to a beautiful sunrise. Being Fall, when we occupied the place, didn’t hurt as far as enjoying the beauty of the place. We quickly told our current landlady that we were moving. We knew we wanted to try to live there, and we did.

The cabin itself had a front door that was boarded up. I took this seal down and put up a screen door the next Spring. I also added a screen door to the “back” door, which was really the main entry into the dwelling. When the kids would come out, Yoody, who was barely two at the time, would ask where we were going. When I told her, “The Cabin”, she immediately recognized the root word cabin and thought we called it a cabinet, like a kitchen cabinet. Hence the placed was dubbed, The Cabinette. Like Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara had Tara, we had, The Cabinette. It stuck, and that moniker was used by all, and still is used when we refer to it.

The cleanest most comfortable outhouse around. We had a beautiful sunrise view every morning
I just found out a month or so ago that the guy that was living in the place when I first saw it is living there again. I told Curtis to tell him to let me know if he ever decides to leave as I would rent that place again myself, just to have a place to go to to spend time. Curtis called me a couple of days ago and mentioned that the Cabinette was going to be empty again. I immediately called Tony and left him a message that basically said, “I’ll rent the cabin if it is available, please call me.”
I haven’t heard back from Tony to this point, so I have no idea if we’ll get another crack at renting the Cabinette. I’ll keep you posted on this one, but for now, no definitive word.
When I lived there, I rigged up running water in a sink in the kitchen. We hauled the water in in large 5 gallon carboys. I used an RV pump, the kind in travel campers, and drained the waste into a pit filled with filtering gravel. I didn’t use harsh soap or detergent. Just a little gray water went down that drain. All other waste went into the clean, well lit outhouse. We composted everything we could, recycled everything we could and generated very little trash. We took the little amount of trash we made to the city and added it to my daughter’s trash on pick up day.

Along the shore in Winter
Showers were another story. In Summer, I built a passive solar shower out of an old black plastic drum. I built a tower from scrap lumber I found behind the local Sears store. Old pallet lumber. In Winter, we used the shower at the local Americinn Motel. They had a deal where you could buy passes to come and use the pool, sauna, spa and showers. It didn’t cost much. We also used my daughter’s place and my friend Curtis’s too.

Sunset in late Winter over Chequamegon Bay
We stayed there for over two years. In fact, when we moved back down South, closer to where my daughter had moved with the Grandkids, we had originally planned on keeping The Cabinette as a second home. We abandoned that idea as the distance was a long way and money was a little tighter. We are sorry we gave it up, but as I said, I’ve got my finger on the button and would rent it again if the situation arises. Let’s hope we get a call back from Tony telling us we can rent it again. As you can see by the photos taken over the time we lived there, it is a beautiful place and our entire family had fun there.

We made our own Granola with organic ingredients and labeled packages with this shot of the Grandkids sitting along the shore in front of The Cabinette

Outdoor tables loaded with rocks and branches, all treasures to keep

A Spring storm captured at Saxon Harbor, a few miles North of where we lived

In Spring, runoff from nearby creeks would turn the water brown for a few weeks
Another of many lovely sunset photos taken from our front door

The front door after a vicious Winter storm

The view from inside looking toward the Great Lake Superior

Hope you enjoyed this glimpse of an important piece of our life. I get back to Ashland often and still have many friends there. If the Cabinette isn't ready for us this time, maybe next time. We'll keep trying to get back here to this magical wondrous place along the Great Lake Superior.



english inukshuk said...

ooooh! oooooh! ooooooooooh!

I wanna live there

seriously, I do

it is by the water, it has view of the water, it has granola (I was literally JUST in the kitchen looking thru a recipe book for a cake to bake this aft for the children and came across a recipe for granola!), it has tables full of nature's wonders (my desk has a glass top and under it are all my shore finds from this summer) and it has inukshuks!!!!!!!!!!

(ok, that's enough of the exclamation marks, you get the picture right?)


Anonymous said...

Wonderful photos. It looks great.

All the best, Boonie

Anne said...

I recall your beloved Cabinette, and hope you get to be back on the shores of Superior. Seems meant to be. Oh, and I can still taste that granola, too. Best ever!

Mel said...

Oh.....can I tell ya, the photos only add to the beauty you described for us so well. Heavenly....especially the gift of simplicity (which I'm sure didn't always 'feel' like a gift). It's a special place, a place of memories and spiritual shaping.

I hope there's another opportunity for you there.
It's obviously a very special place for all of you.

paper-n-soul said...

How simply beautiful and what an adventure. I dream of living on the shores of Lake Superior. I hope your beloved Cabinette comes back around to you.

mig said...

That would be some kind of wonderful serendipity if you could go back there.
What a wonderful place you've described. and how beautiful it look. A great place to just be and listen to the water.
Sending you wishes : )