Circa 1979, after my parent’s divorce, my dad set out to build his second house. The first home he designed and built was the log cabin my mom kept after the divorce. His second home was much more humble. On a dirt road with only two other houses, he built a cabin measuring 20×20 with a 10×20 foot sleeping loft. Today this would be considered a ‘tiny house’.
This was a rustic cabin mind you; bare bones. Rudimentary electricity ran through the cabin with thick white wires stapled to the frame. We had no indoor plumbing, a 13″ black and white TV with bunny ears, a deck of UNO cards, a stray dog named Badger, and plenty of creativity. And yes, you did read that correctly. We did not have indoor running water and no formal bathroom until I was about 10 years old. We got our water from a natural spring that ran up the hill from the cabin and we had an outhouse.
What about the long cold snowy winters? In the cold winter months we set up a portable potty seat over a bucket in the unfinished bathroom. It might sound odd or gross, but it’s really no different from camping. And who really wants to freeze their bare butts off trudging through the dark and snow to an outhouse in the middle of winter, especially with two toddlers? The odd thing is that this lifestyle was totally normal to me.
With a 10×10 sleeping loft, we all shared one single sleeping room. We composted. My dad reused everything. I can’t remember a time I missed television or was unhappy. I loved throwing ‘dirt bombs’ at my brother and pretending the broken tree stump in the woods was our ‘throne’.
Life seemed so simple. Nature was our playground. Time stood still. Somewhere along the way between growing up, finishing college, and trying to figure out life, I lost this part of me. There have been times over the years where I long to be back at that cabin. My dad sold off that cabin and the land many years ago. But that experience is part of my roots and has never left me.