Around my cabin are a lot of items that are of no use to anyone, that probably should have been thrown away a long time ago. On the side of the shed sits an old wooden chair (below), paint peeling, the nails no longer quite holding the pieces together, so it’s unusable. And yet I’m loathe to get rid of it; it’s a symbol of something constructed by hand, so it has some integrity and beauty that newer pieces of furniture don’t have. And it connects me to all the previous owners of this cabin. Someone, maybe 30 years ago, built that chair, sat in it, and enjoyed the same view of the Twin Sisters peaks that I do.
On the east side of the house sits an old piece of machinery
that I suspect was for cutting logs. It probably hasn’t been used for 20 or 30
years and in summer is partly covered by wild rose bushes. I know there are
people in this world (some of them relatives and friends) who would clear their
property of anything not useful, who would see these things as eyesores, as junk to be put in the garbage can. But
that old log cutter tells a story: that someone, before the days of chainsaws,
hand fed trees into the machine. It tells me that things weren’t always as they
are today, that people at one time were more self-sufficient and knew how to
take care of themselves.
I’ve noticed that when people sell their cabins, that includes all the items in it, as if they have become part of the cabin and have settled into the floor and walls. Some of the furnishings in my cabin are probably from the original owners: a wooden table scarred by 70 years of use (above), a lampstand carved by one of Allenspark’s long-term residents—furniture chosen by someone with different tastes than me, yet still useful. Upstairs is a Scrabble game someone left behind, just waiting for the right time—a cold winter day with friends and nothing else to do.
In this throwaway culture, where we get new TVs, computers and phones every few years, it’s a rarity and luxury to have items that have lasted so long. And the old chair, the hand lumber mill, the falling down fences (top) and the leaning outhouse have stood not just the test of time but the weather—rain, snow, cold, heat, wind—and have been shaped by those forces. They sit there, an affront to our throwaway culture. Maybe if I hold on to them I can believe that there’s a continuity in life, that I’m connected to all the people who lived here. Or maybe that I can rewind the hands of time to a different era, one that appreciated things that endured.