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Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

A quick update and some poems/photos from Cascadia, Oregon

Time doesn't exist in Cascadia, a tiny memory of a town in Oregon's Wilamette Valley where ladies in pointed shoes and gentleman in tall hats used to flock to drink the spring water in the 1930's. The trees are so tall, the light that does filter through feels eternally like sunrise, with air that is damp, and smooth, and new. A handful of cabins line a winding street, with blackberries twining out the windows of abandon cars and smoke puffs rise from tin chiminies. 

After being cooped up in a basement apartment in Portland for nine weeks following a brain injury, my grandmother decided it was time I had a change of scenery. She picked me up and took me to her cousin's cabin in the woods in Cascadia. Doctor Carrol, a dear friend of mine from New York would call it "bathing in the trees," an old Japaneese tradition of healing. Grandma simply called it "getting out." 

My grandparents and Grandma's first cousin, Robert, and his wife Roberta all grew up in Sweet Home, a few miles down the road from Cascadia. The two couples have both been married over fifty years, but Grandma remembers a time when she and Robert were children, climbing trees and playing games when they were younger than I. 

Roberta wears smiling eyes and a loose updo and has a true mother's heart, with the ability to know just what you need without your asking, as well as the ability to create meals that not only fill your plate, but your soul. Perhaps you've been told about cooking with the secret ingredient of love? Love simply melts on your tongue in every bite of Roberta's homemade everything -- from a bright red shrimp stew to a dense almond carrot cake.

Robert, with texbooks and classics lining the walls and a bookmark three quarters through at least a dozen books on the table, exudes much the same in a simple nod or knowing smile. 

The two of them are simply among the kindest people I know. 

My grandmother, a ranch wife and true embodiment of the word "capable"  isn't one to smoother you  with hugs and sympathy, but she's always been the one to encourage me to get back on the horse no matter how hard the fall.

Maybe that's why she's my favorite human of all. 

I spent three days in Cascadia, reading snippets from A Girl of the Limberlostwhilst snuggled next to Robert's expertly constructed fires in the wood stove, listening to the river glide past the house, and "bathing in the trees" as Doctor Carrol prescribed via long walks through Cascadia State Park. 

I enjoyed watching my grandmother and Robert poke at each other as they did sixty years ago, racing each other around bends in the path or laughing over old, sometimes foolish, stories from their childhood together. 

Between the comfort of the cabin and being around people I love so much, and feel so loved by, I'd say those few days brough more healing to my brain and to my heart than nine weeks of daily treatments and prodding of doctors. 

It's been a challenging season. I haven't felt God's presence right next to me in the way I have in the past. I haven't felt a lot of things that I used to feel as effortlessly as breathing--love, truth, joy, and peace. Creativity.

But every single day, no matter how dark, He has revealed Himself to me in the past eleven weeks through the kindness of so many people in so many ways.

I'm so thankful for comfort from all those like Robert and Roberta in my life. And I'm thankful for the people like my grandma who encourage me to get back up on the horse. Comfort and encouragement, both are love and both are paramont for healing. 


Some poems and photos from Cascadia



rain on the clover, folded pyramids tremble green

seafoam beads swing in the trees with skeletal white gold leaves.

an ocean-colored stream, so small though vast it seems

rich, dark air, that’s pure and clean

soft sunbeam caught in a single droplet rheme

maiden hair fern in a forest color scheme

a bird song echoes, encouraging others to sing

a hollow ring in the trees 

ladyslipper pirouette, a ballet for a King

the ghost of a thing


Chapman Cabin

There is a great castle of a cabin, in a forest green

to whom Robert and Roberta, live King and Queen

Over fifty years of love between them

Over a century of life, lived between them

There’s linen on the tables, fire in the hearth

oak in the floorboards, whimsy in the art

A river flows just through the lace clad windows

rain on the rooftops, a kettle on the stove

there are footprints in doorway, mud on the shoes

remnants of adventure, whatever you choose

There are solemn faces in black and white photographs

save for one: a man holding a fish, a man who laughs 

the cabin is home to a staircase that creaks, a faucet that leaks

but also the memory of a little girl with blush on her cheeks

there are so many stories in the books that line the walls

but also in those memories, the ones that flood the halls


From A Girl of the Limberlost

What you are lies with you. If you are lazy, and accept your lot, you may live in it. If you are willing to work, you can write your name anywhere you choose, among the only ones who live beyond the grave in this world, the people who write books that help, make exquisite music, carve statues, paint pictures, and work for others.


If you had known about wonders like these in your youth, Robert Comstock, could you ever have done what you did?

-- Gene Stratton-Porter, A Girl of the Limberlost

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