The Road to the Cabin

The Road to the Cabin
Originally uploaded by Johnny Huh.

This was originally written back in 1994 and is part of a short series of stories regarding the cabin in the woods.

I always loved pulling off the main road and onto the rocky trail that led into the woods. It was a physical seperation from the rest of the world and it made me feel as if the day's cares slipped off my shoulders effortlessly. Across the little bridge and up the wash I drove the little Honda, up into the huge and ancient pine trees. I would back the car into its spot which didn't really qualify as a parking place it was really just a convienient place to turn around so I could leave in the morning.

Gathering up my pack and the bag of food after strapping on my pistol I would flip on the flashlight and walk further into the black night. All the sounds of the forest would deaden in a moving radius around me as I followed the track. Sometimes a coyote would howl far off in the night, its keening carrying across the expanse of the lake as if it was standing right next to me.

Occasionally there would be a loud snap very close at hand, just off the trail in the undergrowth. Deer sometimes got curious and approached my swinging light but more often than not it was just a beaver or some other little critter. Most times I'd have packed the groceries into the pack and would be able to respond to anything that was too close for my comfort, usually just drawing the little gun and racking the slide. I'd never had to use it but at least I wouldn't go down without a fight if it came to that.

The lower pond was almost always quiet but that night there was a beaver slapping around on the far shore. I called to him in a baritone clicking, my attempt at interspecies communication. He or she stopped and waited until I had passed on to the upper lake area, the big one.

A row of pines obscured the vision of the whole expanse until I would turn that final corner and it would be revealed in its single, startling flatness. On a clear night the moon would reflect off of it, illuminating the world in the blue glow. Occasionally, if it was warm and I was particularly enthused I would swim under and among the stars, relishing the privacy afforded by my mountain retreat.

The first few times I would venture out cautiously, my nakedness somehow offensive. In time it became comfortable and fun to swim out into the center of the lake to float on my back and stare up at the stars or the glow from the moon. The beavers weren't pleased about sharing the lake with me and showed it by smacking the surface with thier tails in a warning to stay away. I suppose the fear came from a childhood of those horror films that seem so stupid now when I'm old enough to know better. The deranged pyscho that lives at the bottom of the lake waiting to drag the unsuspecting swimmer to his or her watery grave.

And there was the short lived fear of fish finding my shrunken phallus a tasty little worm. A worry based on the silly notion that fish can see in utter darkness and wouldn't be concerned by the rest of my submerged body.

Quickly adjusting to the cool waters I'd stroke out aways, listening to the world around me. The great blue herons in their sanctuary above the submerged island, crackling at each other like an angry tea party in some faraway foreign language. The dog way across the water, shouting its defiance of some night scavenger poking through the remains of the day's leavings. And in between there would be lulls when the subtle sounds of the woods would make themselves heard. The light breeze shifting the leathery leaves in the stand of birches that would soon turn into the frozen fire of autumn's exacting deadline. Water lapping at the dock, echoing in ever quieting waves in the float barrels underneath.

Pulling my shivery frame from the water I might lie on the weathered wood of the dock. Absorbing the moon's purifying rays, thinking about things I had no business analyzing or just wondering when I might have to pack and leave my mountain aerie. Even the cold felt good in a sort of roughing it kind of Grizzly Adams sort of way. I felt superior for having chopped my ties with the modern world and its trinkets of convienence.

But the cabin wasn't so rustic as to require me to eat cold food or wander about with only my flashlight to giude my way and keep me from bumping into the ornaments. My gas lantern was too noisy but the three or four oil lamps were silent and the flickering glow was a distinct and welcome change from the unblinking hiss of the propane's mantle or those filaments lights in other folk's homes. Yeah, I'd gotten somewhat superior and it showed in funny ways.

I had a cooler out on the deck that would keep a five pound bag of ice for almost three days. Stocked with beer that was always useful, milk that never lasted more than a day and other various incidentals. If I felt like it I would start a fire in the woodstove, rapidly turning the cabin into a sauna, steaming myself to some obscure purity. It was fun to cook over a woodstove, fun and messy sometimes. Mostly I would heat water on it and use the propane stove for any fine work that needed doing. Just like hot dogs tasting better at the ballpark, food cooked in the out of doors always commands a more flavorful bouqet. Even mundane meals like chili or beans would taste better if eaten on the deck with the citronella buckets flaming on three sides.

Those buckets were a source of darkness dispelling light and an irresistable attractant for the myriad night flying annoyances, the moths, mosquitos, and any mother little wing-ed bugs. Three inch flames licking into the night, crackling with each kill as the carcass would sink into the amber wax to be fossilized and preserved forever. I had arranged for my hammock to reach out the door so I could rest myself in a position able to write and to drink from my keg-cum-table where I kept my evening drink.

The cabin had magically been stocked with alcohol, gifts of bottles appeared, friends arrived and left half full liters. I had accumuluated a store of five or six different kinds of whiskey, the writers lubricant, along with a couple vodkas, rums, gins (which I personally hated but kept out of frugality), Kahlua and some lovely Malibu coconut rum. On a given evening I would be able to whip up any of a dozen drinks complete with happy glasses and swizzle sticks that I had appropiated from my work place where I tended bar.