Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hobo Cabin on the Pond

Hobo Cabin on the Pond by Jason Bradley

Hobo Cabin on the Pond

by Jason Bradley

I first heard about the history of this hobo’s cabin when I was 8 years old and most days were spent happily in the woods or hanging out in the numerous tree forts I built. I asked my father about the faded remnants of the cabin near a small muskrat pond on our set aside land. I know the nomadic wanderer was tough, and like the cabin he must have stubbornly refused to be taken back by this earth, despite being exposed to this harsh place for the past fifty seasons.

The seasonal home of a train hobo, back in the 1960’s, and to time lapse now, to 2014, and the 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 and look east each morning at the sun, and sit and watch the small pond come alive.

Now, my father and I sit in our homemade, and sometimes 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 metal can stove pipe thimble still lies in the cabin’s crumbling ruins, along with some rotting posts and hand cut logs, used for the first run of the small log 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, 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. According to my father, the hobo would arrive via the northbound train in spring, and leave on southbound train in the first part of September (which is Minnesota Fall). I imagine he never stuck around to deer hunt, that is if they had even dreamed up licensing for such things fifty years ago. He 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 stovepipe thimble, and I have a small ice fishing house wood stove, 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.