My entry for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Home is titled
Northwest Retirement Cottage.
Sometimes my work takes me places other people don’t tend to see. Twice in my career, I’ve visited squatters’ cabins in the woods.
I visited this cabin a few months after its owner died. I hiked about twenty minutes from a logging road down to the river, knowing that the cabin had to be torn down, but sort of fantasizing about spending some solitude in the verdant woods. Maybe instead of dismantling the cabin, we could just clear out his stuff and turn it into a caretaker’s cabin.
The mountain man who lived here apparently had a drinking problem and took refuge in the woods. He posted yellow plastic smiley faces to the trees. He hung odd ornaments and stuffed animals, and appeared to have planted or relocated some trees to his liking.
The inside was creepy. The low-ceilinged interior had a wood-burning stove and a sink (although no running water). Two beds were pushed against the corners of the room, blankets piled high. If I didn’t know that the squatter had died, I might have worried that someone was sleeping there. Laundry was still clipped to clotheslines strung from the trees. I suspect the man spent most of his time in one of his lawn chairs or hammock.
Reusable grocery bags were tacked to the exterior walls. Several pairs of boots were strewn on his tarpaulin front porch. Perfectly good boots. None of us could bring ourselves to take his boots.
We were hard-pressed to find any kind of souvenir we wanted to take home. And no one wanted to move in.
The cabin was torn down a few months later. I’m happy I got to see the before and after.