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  Comments (0) Total Friday Apr. 18, 2014
Cabin Life
Snow continues to fall as the large spruce sags under its weight. Long summer days are a distant memory as the dim winter light casts its silhouette across the landscape. Besides the occasional ski trip or shoveling snow off the walk, our outdoor time becomes less frequent in the winter months. Nevertheless, our evenings are spent next to a crackling fire. There is a comfort and warmth here. There is hope knowing that logs are split and stacked for the cold winter months ahead. The old stove has been burning uninterrupted for months and rests in the corner backed by dove-tail joints supporting our home. The craftsmanship put into cutting each timber will survive the test of time. Although some may complain of suffering from “cabin fever” in the winter months, the argument can be made that living in a cabin is medicine for the soul. Cabin life is more than a building, it’s a lifestyle.

Travel any back road in Northwest Montana and you’re sure to find an old cabin standing alone at the edge of a field. These relics are a testament to a cabin’s longevity. Not only are the materials structurally sound, but architecturally the cabin has transcended generations. Many architectural and style trends disappear over time, yet the cabin remains an ever popular design in our present day construction. The open floor plan is efficient and utilitarian in nature. Early western pioneers would not only use their dwellings to sleep and eat but also as a place of work, tanning animal hides.

The cabin is a symbol of our local history in Montana and conveys a story that many modern day homes cannot. The cabin is not just constructed, it is artfully formed. One only needs to observe each carved out log and joint to appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail. Likewise, when visiting an older structure, its historical narrative unfolds. We as North Americans seem to take pride in our antiques and value any sort of trinket or furniture that is deemed “vintage.” Nevertheless, it’s not uncommon to find blackened logs from old oil lamps or even the notches of early, hand-hewn tools in primitive structures. Thus, adding a “vintage” description to the cabin lifestyle.

I discovered my own interest in cabin living after a recent power outage. The wood stove provided both heat and light and the gentle glow of a few candles brought assurance that joy can be found with the most basic of needs. This simplistic routine is a breath of fresh air in the midst of a busy holiday season. Cabin dwelling is a time of reflection and meditation, when we can be comforted by the warmth of timbers and focus on life’s basic needs rather than get caught up in what we think is important. Self reflection provides the opportunity to make resolutions for the coming year such as spending more time with those who are close to you. Relationships are built around the table in the midst of a game of checkers or over a bowl of soup. Cabin life spurs us to leave those technological distractions aside and to focus on time spent together. It also is an opportunity to work on that project or hobby we have been putting off. Likewise, many a song or book has been written in the confines of a timbered retreat. Mark Twain, Virginia Wolf, and Thoreau all used cabins to initiate the creative writing process.

As winter settles in and a New Year dawns, we feel the warmth of the wood fire as its shadows dance along the timbered walls. We find comfort in a cabin’s quietness and simplicity and are retrospective of our own living situation. Are we caught up in the busyness of life? Or shall we seek the contrary, a simpler cabin life void of some unwanted hindrances and distractions. Take time to spend with those close to you and remember fondly the ones that have passed. Many a man has labored with the saw, ax and adz to create his own cabin experience. As you process this coming year, what do you need to do to make your own cabin lifestyle a reality?
Chuck Shields is a Realtor® at Trails West Real Estate
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