How did I become a Cabin Mama? It all started when I was young.
I grew up loving the woods. About an hour from where we lived stood the “cabin” my grandpa built. Over time, it became more of a lodge.
Grandpa worked in the city, but loved the woods. So, in 1937 he bought 40 acres in Upstate New York, pitched an Army tent for the family to live in, then cleared white pines and hemlock trees for a cabin. We called it Camp — Camp Pinehurst.
Camp was made of formed concrete, cement block and wood. And each year, Walt would build more, adding a front room, bunk rooms, a kitchen with huge picture windows and a back room with a fireplace big enough to lay down in.
There was no running water or electricity. We hauled buckets down from the well to wash and filled water jugs in town for drinking. Kerosene lamps were the norm. Our outhouse was the finest in all the land, with two holes and a shower stall that never got used. (Grandpa never could get water up onto that roof.)
Then there was the bar — a magnificent knotty pine creation with big glass bottles of ginger ale, root beer and orange soda pop stored behind and below. Adult beverages were hidden way up high, well out of reach of curious kids. The golden shellac of the bar top reflected faces young and old sharing late night yarns, some of which were mostly true!
Three generations of family and friends gathered at Camp for clam bakes, hunting camp, holiday celebrations and snipe searches. We’d sing old fashioned campfire songs, punctuated by staccato explosions from a metal mesh popcorn basket over the fire. We scared ourselves silly with ghost stories, which made our last outhouse run in the dark a thrilling adventure. We clung close to whomever had a flashlight, careful not to fall too far behind. You’d run the risk of being grabbed by ghouls that lurked behind every tree. No one wanted to repeat that walk in the night, which made the morning chamber pot balancing act a necessity. Woe to the person who dripped or tripped!
Oh that every child could have the gift of growing up in the woods!
To discover the splendor of salamanders and toads, wander down a “bumpity road” and stuff wild strawberries into a dixie cup. To have the freedom to roam fields and hills without fear. To learn how to lower the flag from the pole at sunset, careful not to let it drape in the dirt. To see the stars against an inky black sky, without the competing glow of too many towns. To realize how much you learned without knowing it, simply because you lived in the woods.
The Cabin Mama Cabin
Fast forward a number of years. We’d moved to Colorado, and despite my dreams of a log cabin, it was wiser to raise three young ‘uns in a townhouse. But there came a day we found the perfect place. It was close to town but deep in the woods. Built in 1924, it was owned by Edith Wolford, one of the first schoolteachers in our community. She taught in the one-room schoolhouse right up the road.
My cabin was a charming little place with very little insulation, but we had four fun years creating memories. Somewhere in 2009, friends started calling me “Cabin Mama” which led to a blog! Since then I’ve been writing humorous stories about life in the woods and adventures we’ve had with family and friends.
I had four great years in that cabin but then…
…there was the wildfire.
On June 11, 2013, hot, dry conditions and gusts up to 60 mph generated the most destructive fire in Colorado state history. Two people died, 14,000+ acres were destroyed and over 500 homes and structures burned, including my cabin. Yes, it was devastating but once the shock wore off, I wrote articles about the experience hoping they would help other wildfire survivors in years to come.
I took the photo above just before we evacuated that day, never imagining it would be my last look at our home.
This is what remained once we were allowed to go back to our properties.
I realize now that being a “Cabin Mama” has more to do with your mindset than the structure in which you live. We possess certain characteristics like enjoying the woods, the critters and outdoors adventures. We like a rustic lifestyle, although hot showers and strong coffee are a must!
I hope you enjoy the articles on this blog. There are many more to come!
Warmly, Laura (aka Cabin Mama)