Growing up, my family had the chance to own a country house in the Eastern Townships in Québec, Canada. I spent all my summers and weekends there until I was sixteen and have the fondest memories of my time there. But of all those memories, my favourites are about my cabin in the woods.
During the summer of my 11th birthday, my parents started up the construction of what I thought was another of their weird impulsive projects: they decided to build a cabin on the other side of the lot, on an enchanting site where the edge of the forest, a small river, and the fields meet. They put a lot of time, effort and money in it, while I was reluctantly looking over their new construction. By the end of the summer, a lovely little cabin was built and I couldn’t care less.
Of course at that age, it was still out of the question that I would spend my summer alone in the city while my parents were taking their vacations at the country home. So I went with them. Bleh. But unexpectedly, it became the best summer of my life. Of course, having awesome local friends and a tight schedule for visiting friends in the city helped, but what really made my summer memorable was that small house by the river.
My parents allowed me to take the cabin as my bedroom for the summer. I would sleep over there but otherwise live with them at the country house. I still had a room in the house if I wanted it, but as you can guess, I didn’t use it often! I moved all my belongings into my new room and I would receive my friends there as well. After dinner, I’d take my flashlight, walk alone in the woods for a couple of minutes on a trail I can still follow with my eyes closed, and reach my sanctuary for the night.
The cabin didn’t have much, but we didn’t need much. There were two single beds next to each other. There was a small table with two chairs and a big wooden chest were I put all my clothes. An iron oven in the corner kept us warm on chilly August nights. There was no electricity; we lit ourselves with candles all night long and had a blaster radio working on batteries so we could listen to old fashioned cassette tapes.
If these walls could talk, I bet they’d have a lot to say. I spent the best nights of my teen years there; laughing with friends, singing and dancing to old Beatles songs, playing Truth or Dare, and all those things that teens do that can’t be talked about on the web. And all of this was done in a place that was mine, where I felt secure and empowered. For a couple of months each year, it became my home, my refuge during those years where you’re not entirely able to fly on your own but still need your space. I was responsible and independent, but still within reach of my parents if I ever needed them. It’s a delicate balance for teens to achieve, but my parents successfully helped me experience it — by building me a small cabin in the woods.
I’m pretty sure it was what they’d planned all along.