Home Again | The old red cabin, now updated

By Joanne Peterson | Aug 17, 2016

Two weeks ago, I wrote about a recent drive to Camano Island. Youthful visits to my grandparents at their island cabin gifted me with countless rich memories – the beach, the woods, baby goats, picnics, horseshoes, campfires, badminton, hide-and-seek, quiet hours of reading and noisy family times with cousins, all seasons.

I’ve driven past the old cabin before. However, on my past drive-bys, I’ve never seen anyone – except for a deer, standing at the edge of the woods beyond the house, watching me.

This time, as I slowed my car in front of the cabin, I saw a woman in the yard. I stopped the car, got out and walked toward her.

“Do you live here?” I asked.

“I’m renting for the weekend,” she said.

Renting? What a surprise! We chatted for a bit – and then another surprise. The woman invited me in.

Giddy with anticipation, I followed her to the back door, stepping onto the same old back porch where the oak icebox used to sit, entering the door into the same old kitchen.

But wait. The old kitchen, which in earlier days had neither electricity nor running water, has disappeared, of course. My grandma used to bake rhubarb pies, simmer pear conserve and prepare chicken dinners for her family on an old wood stove.

History.

Now? A bright modern kitchen, which I was not prepared to embrace. Glass-top range. Dishwasher. Microwave. I wanted Grandma’s kitchen back. And I’ll say it – I wanted to go back in time, for a bit. I wanted those island days with my grandparents.

I stepped into the living/dining room, realizing how small an area our family shared during our visits. The enormous oil-burning heater – “Sparky”– long gone from its space in the living room, of course, its absence freeing up room for a small dining table and four chairs.

The owners didn’t choose a cottage look for the cabin; my grandma would frown at the sleek red leather living room furniture. The two downstairs bedrooms – I knew they were small! – appear to measure about 9 feet by 9 feet.

The narrow, steep stairs leading to the open space where my family slept? Now wider, the carpeted steps, with railing added, use space where Grandma’s old drop-leaf table sat against the living room wall.

At the top of the stairs, I glimpsed a king-size bed and more carpet. I suddenly remembered the 2-by-4s and bare, fragrant wood of the unfinished upstairs, with Army surplus beds, rag rugs and stacks of old quilts warming us at night.

Talk about nostalgia!

The woman shared rental information with me; I haven’t called the owners. Would they want to know some history of their property? Would I learn anything significant about its more recent past? Am I a prospective renter? I don’t have answers yet, and don’t know whether I want answers.

As I returned to my car, I turned for one last look. A deer stood at the edge of the woods beyond the house, watching me.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Vivian C Murray | Aug 18, 2016 16:15

Joanne,

I love your stories about this area as you were growing up. Your memories give me a new perspective about what it must have been like to live in such a beautiful spot as a child.

Hope you will consider renting your grandparents cabin for a few days. Even with the changes, it could be quite memorable and it would mean a third installment of this Red Cabin Series! Who knows, maybe a relative of the fox will stop by...

-Vivian



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