“Did you hear that?” I asked my sleepy brother. “Oh! There it is again! Do you think we should go back to the cabin and wake up Dad?”
My little lake cabin is just over 400 square feet and is one room. I will be the first to say I have managed to make it work for my family all these years rather smoothly. Although I have always had more than one rather spatially generous homes in the city as I grew up, our little cabin has always remained in the exact footprint from Day 1. There are a variety of reasons why it has remained that way, but predominantly it is because my father thought it was big enough, and then my husband thought it was big enough, and so it stayed that way, regardless of the extra room my mother, and myself longed for now and then over the years. Originally, the cabin had two large beds at the back of the cabin, and a long single bed that tried to pretend it was a couch closer to the living room area by the front windows. As tiny children, my brother and I slept in the other large bed, next to our parents. When we were old enough to be left unattended, and I can’t remember what age that was, but coddling your children was not an option at the lake, and so off to a tent we were banished to sleep every night. In analyzing this today, I laugh when I think that it was ‘manners, manners, manners’, and formal routines in the city, but here at the lake it was a process of ‘toughen up and learn your survival skills’, and hours and hours, day by day, of joyfully running wildly free in a forest. When my children were small, my husband and replaced the second bed with a set of bunk beds. This furniture had been recycled from his family place, a jointly family-owned property his parents were part of. My husband had slept in that bunk bed with a brother when he was small. Now it has come to our cabin, and our youngest slept up top, and our oldest on the bottom.
We also upgraded the inside living room furniture to include a very comfy three-seater couch and reclining chair. The couch was also a fold out-bed. This was helpful when we brought extra youngsters to the cabin with us, especially if it was to rain and they could not tent. My husband also leveled off two sections of land on our rock point area, and so, as our kids grew they tented out there on the point with their friends. I should have been so lucky. My Dad always said, “children should be seen and not heard.” In truth, he was a fabulous dad at the lake and did so many things with us, but he liked his private time, and he liked to sleep in, and kids were not an option for mornings. He built a wooden platform in the back bay area of our property, and that was my brother’s and my home for sleeping, period. The platform was built back there because the land was so sloped, and it was built about 10 to 15 feet from the water line. Being near to the water made the tent area less ‘buggy’ for mosquitos and such, because the wind came right off the water there. The platform was touching the land on the back and had stilts on the front end. It was a perfect size to fit our old square canvas tent. Add a couple of air mattresses and sleeping bags and that is where we slept.
I longed for the warmth and protection of a cabin. My neighbouring friends at the lake often had small cabins of their own, placed relatively near to the main cabin where their parents slept. Not us, it was the tent for us. May I mention, once again, that we are fairly remote, and that the back bay area was away from the cabin, over a cliff walkway, and a tad removed from the main cabin. I can’t tell you how many times I heard things ‘go bump in the night.’ I am not generally a ‘scaredy-cat’, but I was anxious back there more than once when I heard things. However, I was also a tad hesitant to tell my dad that I was scared and I needed to sleep in the cabin, because I heard something out there in the dark of the night. More than once I would mention it the next day and he would say to me not to worry, it was ‘just a bird, a grouse, a bird, and was nothing to be afraid of’. He would remind me that, ‘we were in the forest and wild things were more scared of us than we of them.’ I was not convinced. As I have lived here so many years, I have learned not to pass on my anxiety, and not allow my own boys to camp in a tent. They mostly tented together, and then later, as they got older, each had their own tent which were not placed far from each other. However, they were lucky enough to sleep on the rock point in front of the cabin. To me, as a mom, it is so much safer there, with only the one small ramp and a neighbour’s dock end as access to that section of property. It would be less likely for an animal of any substantial size to wander on to the point in the night. It was also within easy view of the cabin. I was fine with the boys sleeping there, but I sure wished I had been tenting on The Point and not in the back bay, more than once I was rather anxious when heard the sound of a branch snap in the night.
The reality is that this is a forest. There are the wild things that live there right along with the butterflies, squirrels, birds, including, grouse. However, I survived all the things that went ‘bump in the night,’ but still will mention that secretly, though I love being at my cabin with the beautiful experiences of being away from city life and civilization, I really do like having four walls up and sleeping in my cozy little bed in my cabin. Did I mention I was a senior now? I will admit, I adore my ‘creature comforts’ these days.