Over the years I never understood how valuable time spent at the cabin was until I started to find myself changing other plans and day dreaming about it at work. It seems so simple, hanging out with my friends, ass deep in the woods of Northeast Ohio.
A few years back, my buddy Ryan asked me if I would like to check out the handmade log cabin he, his brother, and some friends had built on his parent’s property. I didn’t know what to expect, but I gladly accepted his offer. Looking back on it, I’m truly blessed that I did. It became one of the nights that changed my life forever.
The Cabin was built on the edge of one hundred and sixty-eight pristine acres of Ohio forest. The area lies just on the edge of the Appalachian foothills, deep in a valley between two large hills. In that valley is a twenty-eight acre private lake. It’s like this area has been forgotten and in many ways, it remains untarnished by the folly of man. The area is truly a rare sight to see in the ever expanding mini-mall, parking lot, and Starbucks world we live in.
The smell of White Oak acorns filled the air as the wind gently blew through the valley. There is no way I can express the beauty and purity of that sensation. I don’t remember the exact date. All I remember is, it was colder than a well digger’s ass and everything was covered in snow. Most nights in December are, in Ohio. We got out to the property sometime around 10pm. A fresh coating of powder snow had just fallen and covered the lake that had long since been frozen over. The sky was clear and the Moon’s reflection on the snow crystals made it look like a million diamonds covered the barren landscape.
Not knowing the area or being familiar to the trails yet, I followed Ryan closely in my pickup truck. The tail lights of his P.O.S. red Grand Am bounced wildly down the trail. Ever-so-close to the lake, his car was no more than a few feet away from disaster the entire time. We reached the parking area at the far corner of the lake and the lights of our vehicles became dim. I grabbed my back pack and followed him down the trail.
“Ok Mike, hold up.”
“Why, what’s up bud?”
“Nothing major, it’s just the bridge. We gotta walk across it one at a time or else it may break.”
“ Ok man, no problem!”
The bridge to the cabin was an old diving board just long enough to span the 8ft of creek that runs past the cabin. The whole thing was completely absurd to me, but who am I to judge. A few more steps past the edge of the creek sat the cabin.
The smell of wood smoke filled the air and a gentle glow of candle lights seemed to escape from every little crack and crevice. It truly was a sight to see. As the hand-cut door swung open, a waft of warm air and cigarette smoke flooded into the night sky.
Inside sat Justin, Ryan’s brother. Cold beer in hand, he greeted us as if he hadn’t seen us in years. As we packed ourselves and our gear into the one hundred and twelve square foot shack, I began to settle in for the night. We spent the rest of the night drinking, laughing, and telling stories of life, love, and our dreams of the years to come.
What does Cabin Time mean to me?
Waking up in the cabin before dawn, slightly hung-over, to stoke the coals and toss another log in the cabin stove. Throwing on Carharts over thermal underwear, grabbing my shotgun or bow, and stepping out into fresh December snow to deer hunt. We always go our own separate way, stealthily stalking in the pre-dawn to our favorite hunting spots. Ryan prefers to open the cabin window, sit by the barrel stove making coffee, and reading with his shotgun next to him. “Just-in-case.” He calls that hunting. I don't.
At the end of the day, one of us will return triumphant with a deer for the guys to clean and cook later. Probably at our next night at the cabin.
But most of all, Cabin Time means separating yourself from the stresses of life.
Living as a man should be. Connecting with nature and a simple honest way of life.
In a way it makes me sad to know that so many people now a day will never get to experience this. Maybe if we could all get back to this kind of life, it would help us to understand and value what is truly important.