Finding serenity in little cabin in the woods.
Story & photos by Anne Grugel
Like many folks, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to own a little cabin in the woods. In October 2012, at 60 years young, my dream became a reality!
View from the porch in the fall.
From my apartment in Syracuse, N.Y., I had spent many weekends driving north into Oswego, Oneida, Lewis and Madison Counties – the Tug Hill region – just to get away from the city. While I had always dreamed of owning a camp in the beautiful Adirondack region, the more familiar I became with Tug Hill, it struck me as a “mini Adirondacks” and certainly much more affordable. And so my quest began. I tried working with an area Realtor who dealt specifically in camp properties, but we weren’t finding that “just-right” property. It took over four years to find my dream property. But then, there it was – I found it on Craigslist of all places! I met with the seller to look it over; little did he know that I’d been sneaking looks at that property for more than two years. I gave the seller a deposit and closed on my little slice of heaven on October 25, 2012 – my dear mother’s birth date. So with tears of joy, and a most thankful heart, I walked my new property, and then closed the little cabin up for the winter.
My tiny 20x16-foot cabin sits on 2.8 acres overlooking a fresh water pond with pond access. The pond is teeming with wildlife! It truly is more of a wetland in the summer months. I’ve seen and heard osprey, heron, wood duck, geese, beaver, owl, deer, dragonflies, butterflies, hummingbirds, chickadees, orioles, chipmunks, and squirrels. My blue bird and wood duck nest boxes are all set for spring, and my “Wildlife Sanctuary” signs are posted. At night, the pond produces a loud chorus of bullfrogs, tree frogs, and owls. On a clear, starry night, I can sit in my canoe and attempt to count the stars reflecting in the pond water! What more could I ever hope for? I have continued working both full and part time (70-plus hours per week) because I now have a 10-year cabin mortgage to pay, as well as saving for a few amenities at the cabin such as a hand-pump well, an outhouse, and a wood stove. By late spring 2013, the well and hand pump were in place, and by late summer the cabin had been power-washed and was newly stained.
In recent years, I have been working on my cabin in earnest. Major projects, some of which have involved my carpenter, have included:
- Evicting the resident mice, and keeping them out.
- Removing the R11 insulation and replacing it with R19.
- Installing beautiful new tongue-and-groove paneling in the loft.
- Removing the batten board inside the main part of the cabin and replacing it with polyurethane-coated horizontal plank boards with dark green beadboard on the bottom and a dark red chair rail.
- Removing all the bark from every piece of exterior board, spraying for ants, and staining all the wood.
My carpenter is currently building an outhouse that he’ll deliver in the spring. My well guy will dig the outhouse hole and line it with a plastic barrel with a concrete bottom. He is also in the process of installing a special sleeve on the hand pump so the water always drains out, and the pump won’t freeze. Lastly, after much research, I have chosen a wood stove! It’s on layaway at an area hearth shop to be installed by my carpenter in the fall of 2016. Next summer, I will be moving back to my cabin. And this time I’ll stay there! I keep envisioning how beautiful the cabin will look with the inside completed and the wood stove keeping it, and me, snug and cozy. So what is it about my cabin that has me scrimping and saving and aching to live there? I can’t speak for everyone, but since you’re reading Cabin Living, you most likely have a yearning in your heart to simplify and find some serenity. Perhaps not to live there, but a place of quiet and beauty where one can come away from the hectic pace of our daily lives and rejuvenate our souls.