Friday, November 7, 2014

Oak Hill cabin draft


The faded remnants of the cabin are tough like this cold, desolate place, and some of the hobo's original building supplies stubbornly refuse to be taken back by this earth, despite being exposed to this harsh land for the past 50 seasons. It was once the seasonal home of a train hobo, back in the 1960’s, and to time lapse until now, 2014:

I see the large, oak dotted, savanna hillside has claimed back almost all of the small log cabin’s crumbling remains. It’s faltering ruins sit on the west end of the small muskrat pond, and I imagine the original inhabitant placed it here so he could rise each morning with the sun, and sit and watch the small pond come alive.

Now, father and I sit in our homemade, or store bought, deer stands, overlooking the cabin ruins, and the still remaining, and relatively untouched, muskrat pond. We come to this place for a few days each year, during the Minnesota deer hunting season.

The flattened tobacco can stovepipe thimble still lies in the cabin’s ruins, along with some rotting posts and hand cut logs; logs used for the first run of the small cabin. A few concrete bricks and other debris can still be found, but the earth has taken much of this once inhabited spot back, at least for now.

When I was young, and spent more time exploring out in the these same woods in 1987:

I found some of the hobo’s old peanut butter jars, and Prince Albert tobacco cans, from back when he would stay, or squat, in this small cabin during the short, Minnesota summers. 
I bring them home, and hide them in the wall of the tin quonset.

According to my father, the hobo would arrive via the northbound train in May, and leave on the southbound train in the first part of September. I imagine he never stuck around to deer hunt, that is if they even had licensing for such things fifty years ago.

The architecturally savvy hobo picked a fine place for a shack, and over time I have come to appreciate the unique location . This farmland, which hasn’t been tilled since I started hunting it, is teetering on the edge of three important ecological intersections, at the confluence of Minnesota’s forest, prairie, and oak savanna. I am jealous of the hobo’s eye for great building sites.

I want to honor this place by building a small cabin of my own on the same spot. I will reuse the hobo’s handmade thimble, and I have a small ice fishing house woodstove, and a length of pipe I will use to heat the small space. I never met the cabin’s original inhabitant, but I share his vision. This is the perfect place for a small, handmade shelter of my own.