Thursday, September 16, 2004

Margaret Atwood -- the Cabin as home

After reading the Margaret Atwood essay about her family I wanted to write about my family and where home is.

Home when I thought about it went to The Cabin where I grew up spending 3 weeks every summer and every weekend with my family. My dad built it with his dad. I grew up hearing stories about the tricks they played on my grandma. When they were working on the roof, they put one of my dad’s shirts around a cinder block, stamped around a lot, shouted “Oh No!” and through the block off the roof past the picture window where my grandma was looking out at the lake. I’m surprised she didn’t kill both of them then and there.

The chimney was made with lake rocks that my dad and grandpa found in Green Lake. Above the mantel was a picture of the sailboat that my dad and grandpa built together—the Likki Tikki. It was named after Thor Hjerdahls Kon Tikki. Long before I was born, the boat was destroyed in a fire at the marina’s storage shed. There were also some dusty waterski trophies of my aunt Jan’s. There was no hint that my dad had an older sister as well.

In my mind this was home. And I have all these romantic pictures of my perfect Walton’s family singing out their goodnights. There was no air conditioning. There was a big fan on the ceiling. In the loft it got stiflingly hot and there was no privacy. But it was my favorite place to sleep. At night we’d go out in the lake, wading up to our necks and stand still until we started to shiver and our teeth were chattering. Then we’d run in and hop into bed. If grandma was there we had to dry our hair with a blow dryer first, which kind of spoiled the effect. She had this thing about sleeping with a wet head.

She and my grandpa moved out to The Cabin every summer to live there. They knew all the neighbors. They went to church outdoors across from the bible camp that some relative of mine started. Pete Bonde. I can never remember how he was related, even though I think it was a pretty direct line from him to me.