Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Cabin in the Woods

The Sunday afternoon jam session at Christopher's Pizza in Meadows of Dan was just beginning its next to last selection when Maynard said, "If you're not busy, Sue and I would like to have you stop up to our cabin for a bit." Sue is the emcee for the jam, Maynard helps out with the food service, and both handle the landscaping for Shu's resort development. It was our sixth and last visit to Christopher's, and we were having a difficult time saying farewell to Maynard, Sue, and Shu, so we jumped at the opportunity to spend some more time with these folks. Besides, we had been hearing about this cabin with no electricity and no running water.

We follwed Maynard in his 1956 beautifully-restored Ford for about two miles to the lane leading to their cabin. We then drove off the road onto a grassy path that began the narrow lane. Not knowing if I could make it up the lane or if I could turn around at the cabin, I asked if we could park the truck at the start of the lane and ride up the lane with Maynard in his '56 Ford.

After arriving at their cabin, we heard--nothing. We walked to the site of the original home on this 32-acre property. Maynard had cleared away what I would guess was about 10 acres of land around the fireplace chimney of the home that had deteriorated over a period of 77 years. Maynard built a covered area over some picnic tables adjacent to the chimney. They still roast hot dogs and marshmallows over a fire in the fireplace.

We then headed to the porch to enjoy the soundless scenery (left to right: Sue, Kate, and Maynard). (My apologies to Sue for almost cutting her out of the picture.) Maynard and Sue built this cabin by first clearing the land and then taking some trees to a sawmill to be cut for building the house. Maynard had no experience in construction or architecture: "I just designed the space as we went along" was his explanation.

Their home was originally one room, but they added a second room over the years. In one corner of the front room was the cook stove which belonged to Sue's grandmother. This beauty still works fine, although the couple does not do a lot of cooking on the wood-burning stove.

Many friends brought antique boxes of food items or kitchen supplies to put on the shelf to fit a period of decades ago. A relative of the owner of the original home on the site brought an old cast iron tea kettle, saying that she thought "the kettle should return to its home."

In the opposite corner of the front room stood an old victrola. Maynard cranked it up and put on a 78 from his stack of 78s on the shelf below. The songs of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys sounded surprisingly good.

Maynard built the chairs, benches, and a small building on the property. He also brought in old pieces of machinery and placed them around the property in such a way that it appeared that they were working on tasks several decades ago. He built the bed on this wagon. The tree branch shown at the corner of the wagon is temperarily taking the place of the wagon's brake lever.

Maynard mentioned that homes built 80+ years ago were built near natural springs. So when he found the chimney, he knew a source of water was nearby. Within 100 feet of the former home is a spring, which is the source of their drinking water. Maynard also found other springs which became the source of water for the pond that he dug and stocked with catfish and koi. Walking around the cleared acreage revealed many spaces where benches or chairs provided places to just sit and enjoy the scenery. With the number of jobs that both Maynard and Sue have, they have almost no free time to enjoy the results of their work. From the cabin, we drove to their greenhouse and drove past their "full-time" home.

It was wonderful to spend the time with Sue and Maynard. They have made us feel very welcome in our visits to Christopher's.

We will miss the Sunday jams and the conversation with some fine people at Christopher's Pizza. We have certainly felt part of the family at this little pizza shop.

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