Where Manís Best Days Are Spent

The saddest moment of the year is when you turn the key in the door of the summer cabin and close it for the winter. It is like a farewell to a good friend. In the city you never really own a house. It is owned by a tribe of mechanics who fix the plumbing, mend the roof, service the washing machine and attend to the electric lighting. It must be painted cleaned and maintained in a state of fashion to please the whims of civilization. It is open to the inspection of the world. It is always on display. It is a part of society. But the cabin is itself without pride or shame, and it belongs to you to treat as you will, beyond the reach of the world.  Moreover, it contains all of your best memories and marks the happiest moments of your life when you are truly free. It is also, in large part, your own creation, for through the years you have mended it, painted it, invented innumerable crude gadgets for it, distorted it with your own feeble carpentry and made it your own.

Thus to close it for the last time in the autumn is to close and abandon part of yourself and live constantly with the feeling that something is missing. There will be a gap in your life until spring. We abandon our cabin to the dark woods, the wind, the rain and the snow and without our help, without our warming fire and tender care, it must withstand the shocks of winter. But we batten it down as well as we can. We hang the blankets and tents from the ceiling against the mice. We fill the wood box and leave an armful of kindling for the day next spring when we shall light the first fire of the year.

There are boats to be hauled up, another melancholy business - the ancient canoe in which three generations of young folks have made love, the broken row boat, so often repaired and repainted to look like new but now showing its age through all this disguise, and the precious sailboat, which must be handled with expert care and never touched by any unskilled hand. All around us the great woods look down upon these feeble preparations against the winter and they smile to themselves, for they are glad to see us go. We are the interlopers here, who have cleared a small space in the forest and hold it against the will of the original inhabitants.

Nature will not miss us but the cabin will and it will wait here patiently through all the dark months while we are snug in the city. It will wait here, and in the spring, making no complaint against our neglect, it will watch for us coming down the narrow trail and, with an almost audible shout, it will welcome us home again.

This story was found among items belonging to Ben Larson Jr. but the author is unknown.

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