Monday, September 28, 2009

Once a Year, I...

...go to this remote cabin in Wakefield, Quebec.

It wasn't always remote. Once upon a time it was constructed around forty years ago in a nice clearing, along with a storage shed. It was a working cabin, with a one-room living area, kitchen (with wood-burning stove), dining room and bedroom. There was also a back room and a side porch, as well as a bathroom.

Nowadays it's pretty much the same, except it's dirty, messy, and dilapidated.

The land area as well as the cabin was bought by my grandfather in 1980. My father and his brothers and friends would go up there now and then in pickup trucks and hang out, raise the flag (of which country I forget) and play guitar. They'd sit at the picknik table, play horseshoe, start a fire and cook hotdogs. 

Then came the nineties and the children. We'd go up there all the time as kids, my dad, my uncles and my cousins, and we'd run around and eat chips and paint in the porch. I remember the painting I did, it's in my room somewhere. Dated about 1994 or 5, I'd have to go up and look. I even spent the night there with my dad once. I was young. The original photos of the first-born male cousins/dads was taken by my aunt up there. 

Winter trip, 2004. The fisheye/cartoon effect was created with the software that came with my dad's new digital camera at the time..
L-R: Myself, Nelson, Malaika.

We'd do this mostly in the late summer and fall, sometimes winter. Each time we'd bring up gas-powered lawn mowers and cut down the weeds and long grass and make it easy to walk around. We'd spend whole days up there. It was fun. I learnt how to jump off this burnt tree trunk and to a roll once I hit the ground. Snakes lived in that trunk.

One time in the winter we even had a snowmobile. I didn't ride on it much though. I was too afraid of the noise.

Nowadays, our trips to the cabin have been routinely once a year, usually in the fall or early winter. No one else comes, just my father, half-siblings and myself. We don't stay longer than about an hour. And usually we go there, drop things off, then go on a walk up to the pond nearby. We come back and leave, nothing else to it.

Winter trip in 2008. Note that the table was brought out because the picnic table is...virtually rotted away into the ground (can you find it in this photo?)

The shed, I didn't even mention the shed. It was left to abandonment a long time ago and now sits on a slant. When I was young it was a shed that leaned to one side and had a large portion of wall burnt off. It was full of garbage and old stuff. Now it's in even worse condition, and the roof as been removed - by my father and I - for his backyard shed. So it's really just four half-destroyed walls. Most of the window frames have been broken out. I'm surprised it's still standing.

The shed, 2008
Today marked the day that we came up for this year. It was only me and my father this time, no one else. Last year it was myself, my dad, his friend Ian, and my half-brother Nelson. I've got some photos on Flickr of the cabin back then. But it shows that how many people come to this place and how often is in steady decline. We don't do anything anymore. It just sits and rots. The last maintainence that was done on it was maybe five years ago, and that was just a window. We don't come up there to do anything other than maybe start a fire and have hotdogs, leave things and go on a walk. We don't stay long, and we certainly didn't today, because it was raining and wet and our shoes and pants got soaked walking through the weeds and stuff. It wasn't super fun.

The Cabin Today
I should note that in recent years many loggers have been by and around, cutting trees and making logging trails to drive their big machines through. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd been around and inside the cabin in our absence. Today we found two raised platforms with chairs ontop, which is what hunters use to watch for prey. They go up about three metres and are usually supported by a tree trunk and poles. There was one off to the side of the clearing the cabin was in and another further into the trees.

As long as the land is in the family, I know I'll keep coming up, just to take a look around at least. No more maintainence is in order, that's for sure. The building will slowly rot away like the shed. It's been there since the sixties and ours since the eighties. There's no resources. No will power. And I'm actually interested in watching the wilderness and land recycle what humans have built on it. That's why I take photos each time, each year, to compare them and see the rate of decomposition. We had a picnick table in front of the cabin. The wood has since rotted to the point of the table drooping and keening, eventually disappearing in the woods. I don't know where the snowmobile has gone. We used to store it under a wooden box next to the cabin. I think it's slowly sunk away, buried under the marsh and weeds and stuff. Plants have grown over it. 

Even the burnt tree trunk has actually produced a new tree out of it. Recycle. That's what the whole thing is about. The Earth is a resiliant place. What humans have done, it will heal from. If we let it.

New photos on Flickr.

(Note: I would have inserted many photos I've seen over the years of the place, but I don't have them in my possesion or scanned, which is too bad because there's some pretty cool ones).

-Justin C.    

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