In Alberta’s southern foothills, just north-west of Turner Valley, lay a small quarter section of land.  There are two entrance ways to the land.  The eastern entrance has a gate made of poplar, and leads to a small, but homey structure we call “the Bishop’s Cabin”.  The western entrance to the land is more imposing.  A large, locked steel gate looms large at the base of a hill that gets steeper with every passing year.  At the top of this hill sits The Cabin; no adjective qualifies its name—it is, quite simply, The Cabin.

Those who know the story of The Cabin know why it has become the Platonic ideal of cabins everywhere.  Some of us were lucky enough to have seen my uncle, and some of his friends deliver the cabin from a different forest in its mid-eighties infancy.  Each of The Cabin’s logs were hand-picked by a company of three, for their trueness and beauty; each of the logs live up to their collective moniker—Lodge Pole Pine.

Though they were fallen over thirty years ago, the logs still live.  In the winter, when wild, west winds beat against The Cabin’s exterior walls as a fire rages within, you can hear the sound of wood shivering.  The logs creak, moan, and groan, voicing their subtle demand for a healing elixir of solvent in the spring.

There is no toilet in The Cabin, and no running water.  The floor is bare plywood, stained with the blood of a thousand elk, deer, moose and bear, some of which stare down at us from the walls above, reminding us of our own mortality, as well as their own.  If only these walls could speak, instead of moaning eternal.

The stories the walls could tell– stories of bachelor parties gone mad, of family reunions, nights of sadness and mornings of great joy.  Stories of hymns belted out into sub-zero winter nights when the air lends itself to song, and stories of quiet, solitary nights of reading and writing.

But, thankfully, the walls don’t speak.  And that is part of The Cabin’s appeal—it is a place of refuge from a judgmental world: at the cabin, you can yell things you wouldn’t dare utter anywhere else.  The cabin is a place of honesty; here, for better or for worse, we are as true as the Lodge Pole Pine that keeps us warm.

 

***  I made a short film that explores The cabin, and the surrounding woods through the eyes of Lily Fawn.  You can watch it here. ***

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