Opening up the Cabin

I thought I would have time enough to eat and sleep at the cabin, so I didn’t have any breakfast before I went out to pack up the car. That may have been a mistake, for I noticed my front tire was slack so I fished out my hand pump from the trunk. As I was taking off the dustcap, I saw that the hard thump from the night before had bent my rim. I had more to do than just pump up a slack tire. It was leaking because the rim was bent. I fetched Dennis’ framing hammer from the barn, and hammered the rim back into a kind of shape, and then pumped it up. It seems to be the only rim to have been damaged, but I knew I would have to remove it and hammer the other side in as well. In the long term, the rim is likely ruined, but I was more interested in getting to the cabin before the bright sunny day disappeared.

Once I checked the tires, I slowly drove the torn up road to the dirt road that led into the bush. It was in bad shape, for the frost had been heaving the dirt, and people had rutted it by driving their trucks too fast over the soft dirt. I drove slowly along, thinking all the time about coming out of the bush on the Wednesday, for Ann needs me to help her with a task in her home. Her former tenants had destroyed the place, and we are going to remove carpeting on Wednesday. It’s difficult to come out of the bush early, but I told her I would aim for be there for noon.

Once I found my driveway, the two stumps were where I’d left them blocking the drive, so I parked on the road, rolled them out of the way, and then went for a shovel to get the last pile of snow which was right over my entrance. That would be the remainder from the snow plow, and it should have been a quick matter to remove it.

I keep a shovel, as well as other junk, in what I call the pallet shed near the road, so I unlocked the door only to discover that the building had heaved and the door could not be forced open any more than a few inches. I set the task aside to come back to after shoveling, and reached in one hand to grab the shovel which I luckily keep right by the door. I removed the snow, picked up the small branches which had fallen in the drive, and brought my car closer to the pallet shed where I normally park. I like for the car to be in far enough to keep it invisible to curious eyes.

Then I turned my mind to the door. I used the shovel as a lever, and after a few minutes, I was able to force the door open the rest of the way. Then I took out the hydraulic jack and lifted one of the supports, and then another, until the door was freely swinging. I put a higher support under it, and although the tolerances were close, I could at least lock the door again. I brought out the pallet step for the shed while I was in there, and pulled out the tarp I had taken to parking on to avoid rusting my car. I had parked too far forward to allow placing it, but I threw it near where I wanted it, and figured while the car was warming up, I could place it properly.

I was getting weak from little food the day before, and none so far, but I next contemplated the creek. It wasn’t really high, but I would certainly get wet feet crossing. I took out two pairs of boots and wore one across, while burdened with my pack and shoulder bag. I had removed my pants and socks so that I would have dry clothes for the trek back into the bush, so I dressed again, and put the wet boots upside down to dry while I wore the other pair into the woods.

The trail took a bit of kicking fallen branches out of the way, but it was warm when I stepped into the glade where the cabin looked like it had survived the winter well. The only sign that the snows had been unusually heavy was the woodshed, which had been shoved away from the cabin by the snow coming off the roof. I unlocked the porch door, and although it had moved in its frame, or more properly, its frame had moved around it, I opened it and stepped into the heat of the porch. My key to the main door wouldn’t turn in the lock, so I set down my bag and devoted some attention to it.

The cabin usually shifts on its foundation in the winter and spring, and by times the door is hard to open, but this time it seemed quite stuck. Feeling that I hadn’t eaten or even taken a glass of water, I tried turning the key with a pair of pliers I leave in the porch for that reason, but to no avail. Then I took apart the top hinge and shifted the door by prying on it and lifting it, and then finally, once I turned the key and heaved on it at the same time, it moved.

Once I was inside, I opened the two windows to the porch, for the main cabin was chilly. Then I brought my bags inside, and turned on the main power. I checked the buckets I left in the new part and there were the remains of four mice in them, so I realized that I would be fighting mice again this year. A bucket in the greenhouse had a dead mouse as well, so I added that to my list of things to look into. I plugged in the drill I had modified to run off the twelve volt current in the cabin, and took off the plywood covering the sliding door in the new part, and then went around the cabin unscrewing and opening the shutters. In a few minutes the cabin felt like I had arrived.

A pin cherry tree was down in the yard where it had fallen in the winter, so I opened the workshop for my axe, and moved it out of the way. I fished out the barrel for water, and set it up on its base, and then covered it with screen and hooked up its hoses. Next I set up the step on the tin shed, where I keep building supplies, and the step for the workshop. They merely screw into place, and before long I was bringing out the tin box for the rootcellar—noting the snow behind the cabin I can use to keep it cool—and leaning the ladder against the front of the porch. I set up the steps for the greenhouse, and then took out the parts of the water supply. I took the dirty buckets with mouse remains to a place where spring water collects down the hill, and washed them out so I could install them again in the buildings to collect stubborn mice. I found a dead mouse in the workshop as well, so I will have to look into how the building shifted and allowed it in.

I knew I couldn’t set up the power system yet, and in fact, I was moving slow from the heat and lack of food, so I set up the rest of the water system. That is a half barrel on the greenhouse roof, one on the front of the porch, and the fresh water barrel on the roof with its overflow going into the hot water tank and then hooked that into the inside and shower water system.

I finally took the time to eat, so I made a peanut butter and artichoke and green olive sandwich, and then took it out into the sun. I set up a lawn chair on the grass and ate while I toasted slightly in the bright sun. It was very warm, which made me think—after I finished a few more tasks—that I should use the Fresnel lens to toast my cheese sandwich. I sat in the sun getting more drowsy, but finally I roused myself enough to shovel snow around the icebox or root cellar, and then pad that with feedbags.

I made another trip to the car to bring back my sleeping bags, since I don’t want mice to chew them, and then I set up the frame for the solar panels on the roof. After that, I roasted my vegetarian cheese sandwich with the Fresnel lens. That was a fairly successful experiment, although I set everything up and then realized that I couldn’t remember how to take video with my camera, so there are no photos of the procedure. Next time.

I took a nap after eating, and while I was waiting for the sun to descend enough to make setting up the solar panel system easier—for it is more difficult to keep covering the panels in order not so send too strong a shock through the system.

Once the sun began to slide down in the sky, I unplugged the batteries, and began the lengthy procedure of carrying solar panels to the roof to supplement the two I leave out over the winter. I clipped their connectors together, and before long they were sending the weak charge of twilight to the batteries.

By the time it was almost dark, I was beginning to think about sleeping again. I plugged the obvious hole the mice had made in the wall of the new part, and contemplated waiting until they were running around so I could see if there were new holes. In the end, I just washed up and went to sleep. It had been a brilliant day in the sun, and I had nearly everything in the cabin set up, and so after listening to a podcast, I was soon asleep. I woke a few times in the night due to the cold, but I had overheated the cabin by the sun all day, so it wasn’t too chilly until late morning.

About Barry Pomeroy

I had an English teacher in high school many years ago who talked about writing as something that people do, rather than something that died with Shakespeare. I began writing soon after, maudlin poetry followed by short prose pieces, but finally, after years of academic training, I learned something about the magic of the manipulated word.
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