It’s a relief now to see it for what it is.
Really, it’s just an old ramshackle cottage, stuck way out in a rural county whose administrators never failed to screw up our utility bills but always remembered to nitpick over our septic tank.
Oh my god, it’s old … the water pump is loud and mean; the plumbing is good enough to keep the water flowing, weakly, and, see, I don’t have to cringe now when it drops below freezing in the winter … the burst pipes are someone else’s problem.
The wiring is a fire waiting to happen, and it would have been a favor to the neighborhood if it had come to that.
Say what you will about the view, but it’s no better than five or six other places in the world, and those ruins or mountains or canyon walls aren’t marred by a profusion of mussels, like our seawall and the others that curve around the shoreline; their front yards aren’t crunchy with barnacled rocks to cut your feet, or thickly littered with oysters to pass on nasty microbes.
To the northwest there is, and will always be, Mt. Washington, a minor western U.S. mountain which we called George because the people we bought the cabin from told us we should. By a leap of imagination, it can look like the Father of Our Country in repose, his chin facing west and his nose and broad forehead pointing to the sky. Thus, it’s George, as in, “George is out,” or “Not much snow on George this year” or “George is especially handsome today.” How easily we are amused.
The old man’s dead, for quite a while now. He was a seat-of-the-pants carpenter, which was our nice way of saying it, and it’s not a grand picture: his pants were paint-spattered suntans riding low under his gut; his glasses slid down his nose and stayed there, because his hands were too busy with whatever to push them back up.
The first replacement seawall we built together (he was the brains) only lasted 15 years; the south deck a few years less. It’s funny that the pros we hired in later years, after he was gone, couldn’t do as well, which shows that ignorance, blind persistence and dull pencil lead on paper scraps can sometimes beat skill and actual know-how.
The mother figure in the family doesn’t remember we ever had a cabin. It could be said it’s her dementia, but maybe it’s just not that memorable.
It’s already fading from my brain, barely more than two weeks after I slammed the door locked behind me for the last time. Forty-five years in the family, and it’s going, nearly gone, just an old broken-down cabin, soon to be forgotten completely.