i made plans to run away for the week with my mom…a week, just her and i, no cell phones, no computers, no demands….it sounded blissful. the reality was even better. the reality of just over a week with nothing but my mom and i in the middle of nowhere with no demands, schedules, or requirements was perfect…it was lovely…it was peaceful…it was paradise. now that’s not to say we didn’t aspire to do things while there. we most certainly did. first thing in the morning we rose and started the coffee. this was followed by a run on the beach which was followed by drinking the fresh coffee. and then….then! that’s when things really started happening in our days. we got back in our beds and drank the coffee while talking of everything and nothing. eventually the pup would look at us longingly (for she had discovered just what a heavenly place she was in) and want to go for her swim lessons. so out we paddled in the kayaks each of us making sure to keep her between our boats and out she walked more and more until she was swimming. after that we’d take a bigger boat that fit us 3 out to the islands and then back to sun awhile. and there we would lay and talk…..the dog? well she loved being between us in the sun for over an hour. no really, she did. mom would lay out a towel for her to lay on, i would set up her beach umbrella and she would immediately lay down and watch the waves hit the beach content just to be for hours….yeah, you could pretty much say she was the perfect companion for us. after a while we’d get hungry and rustle up some food maybe even a beer if the occasion called for it (it usually did) and then in for some reading, napping, more reading and then a few cards games with tea and dessert before bed. yes, yes, i know you are asking yourselves if we really did all of those things in such a short span of time and everyday…it was tough but we persevered. but that is what was majestic about where we were…this magical place called the cabin. that’s what you do there. what is this place? well this place is the stuff of our childhoods. not just my mine but my mother’s as well. whole periods of our lives where we learned how to just be…a skill that i’m sad to report i often forget when life gets really busy. for me the cabin meant summers with my grandfather and learning so many things that i now understand as an adult. somehow he knew that i didn’t need to understand these things then; that when i was a kid i only needed to hear it and retain it so that someday it would come back to me when i needed it. for me it had been 18 years since going back and this was my journey….
we talked aimlessly, excitedly from pembroke to chapeau. about how things have changed or could have changed or what had changed. on and on as we drove. and then we drove over the river and past chapeau to the dead end. and so like in a movie the little turn signal came on and we turned left. left onto the gravel road and left onto so many years of memories. finally here was something that we could hold onto and remember as remaining the same. and with that left turn we fell quiet. it was almost as if neither one of us dared to talk, to break that peacefulness of remembrance and a time lost. the trees were waving in the soft breeze that always pushed through; waving at us beckoning and urging us onward, toward the cabin. THE cabin. the silence was broken coming into the last small town before we were alone in the woods only so we could comment on how little it had changed. the little grocer where you got gas for boats had closed but still stood and across the street was the town’s only little church. a testament to the visitors who bought their houses here from the states and came up to vacation only to need a house of worship and perhaps gather to meet and gossip about goings on.
the freedom. the feeling. the gravel road. as we got nearer and near to the cabin it felt like the road was coming alive under the wheels. we seemed to be heading faster and faster towards that little lane tucked just in between the trees. and suddenly we were in the driveway, the cabin barely visible through the trees. still the same brown with vivd red trim. we pulled to a stop in front of it, the memories flooding back into my mind and flooding my eyes with tears. to be here was sacred beyond all measure and touched more of me than anything else. all i could think was, “oh papa.”
we got out and grabbed the first bags of groceries and headed for the door. walking up the porch the roof seemed shorter but my mind was quickly occupied with that smell of forests and pinetrees and fires and wool blankets and thousands of other memories. we moved quickly then, unpacking, turning on breakers and water, changing our clothes and stripping off the last of the travel clothes for new clothes-river clothes. shorts for the water and closed toed shoes. i opened two beers touched mine to my mother’s briefly and we smiled as we both walked to the river.
down we walked. the porch and steps half the size it used to be. down we dropped 4 times. some steps missing and others recently fortified with the addition of extra boards until at last our feet hit the sand. straight down to the water’s edge and straight out in the water. the dog accompanying us and getting her first taste of swimming. out and out we walked allowing the dog to learn and adapt to the waves and the water. and then I turned inward and headed for land, wanting to sink my toes in the dark red sand hot with iron. until at last I looked back and it was only my mom and her dog in the water with the setting sun framing them; capturing what quickly became the first of many new memories made.
we found ourselves making a brief dinner and readying the cards for cribbage. once the dishes were done and the water was on for tea we sat down to play. after it was lights out for the night. but even as i was settling into sleep i couldn’t stop my eyes filling with tears for what seemed like the umpteenth time that day. every moment of remembering caused me to spring a leak so to speak. very much like the song lyric, “every turn a memory.” it was then as i sat watching the last of sunset, reliving all the memories that i realized the roof and stairs and yard of the cabin hadn’t changed. the cabin truly was a place untouched by time. nope, the cabin hadn’t changed at all, but i did.
the first morning we woke up to the cool temperatures that always marked the beginning of a day or the start of evening at the cabin. just enough chill that i could feel it on my nose and burrow down deeper under the blankets. just enough to take me to back to remember that you got up and got dressed immediately because it was too cold to remain in pajamas for breakfast. our days from there on out were the same. boats, water, dog, swimming, walking, running, reading, napping, sleeping, and so on. everyday for me was fun and perfect. not fun and perfect for the great, eventful things we did (because let’s face it we really weren’t too eventful) but rather for the time i got to spend with my mom. and ok, the spending time getting to know my mom’s dog was fun too….i only add this here to keep myself honest and so when my mom reads it she will know i was honest! appy (the pup) is a force to be reckoned with if she doesn’t like you but once she does she’s really easy to fall for! but these were our days just enjoying a land forgotten and each other. and then towards the end of the week came an extra bonus. i got to see my grandmother and cousin and enjoy the cabin with them too. and have such a memorable game of canasta (nona- canaaaaaaasta!) that was likely ever played at the cabin….and that’s saying something considering how many times that game was probably played at the cabin. i’ve found it is always a joy to learn and get to know my grandmother now at this age. now that i’m older i see, understand, and get to enjoy so much more of who she is as a woman..then again i do the same with my mother but probably not as much because she’s my mom and such a huge part of what i am already. but the days wore on and all too soon our time was up.
and as i had to pack my things to head home i realized that things have changed at the cabin. the water has algae, there are new cabins popping up along the beach, things moved about in the closets, beds rearranged, the islands are now owned…it isn’t completely unchanged but it is still just as perfect a place as ever for memories old and new. and for enjoying solitude and companionship all at the same time…and yes its possible but only in places like the cabin. the cabin is still as it had always remained, right down to the wool blankets and melamine dishes, a part of me.