I've had all these things to show you, gathering dust since late November, when we took a West Coast vacation through Mendocino County and up to Portland, Oregon to be with friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. There are so may moments worth recounting that I expect this will come in several parts. It all started when Miriam invited us to come stay for a weekend in her family cabin in Comptche, a tiny tiny town just 20 miles or so from Fort Bragg in Northern California.
We headed up on a Saturday afternoon. After leaving California Hwy. 101, we drove mostly along a winding road through a sleepy hollow sort of landscape, light green and lush and rocky beautiful the whole way. We lost the light thirty minutes shy of our arrival, so that by the time we pulled into the cabin's gravel drive, our eyes were tired from squinting at road signs. We were in a forest, we figured, dark as it was by 6:30, but that was all we could tell.
My grandparents have a cabin in northern Wisconsin, perched on a hill, looking over a lake. Jungle Lake, as we fondly call it, is painted in a blue wash and decorated with vaguely Scandinavian knick-nacks, built by my dad's family in the 60's. Not knowing what to expect, as always with my California, I imagined to find the same sort of thing at Miriam's in Comptche. I woke up our first morning, to find something else entirely.
In truth, they aren't so different. The redwood forest that surrounds Comptche, at the scale of the majestic, is more impressive probably than the familiar woods at Jungle Lake. But where the cabin itself was punctuated with their families' history there--a museum of treasures collected on hikes adorning an exterior wall, lamps and drinking glasses handmade by Miriam's dad and the cabin garden tended by Miriam's mom--I was constantly reminded of the parallel traditions we kept at Jungle Lake. We have a birch cribbage table that my grandfather made from a felled log and an announcemnent still hangs in the hall closet for a pounce tournament "tomorrow morning" that we made when we were kids. Each time Miriam would explain a ritual of Comptche, I would remember one of my own. In a bit of a flood of memory, I realized how much I'd forgotten of the Jungle Lake traditions since I moved away.
They're a lot like time capsules, cabins. They envelope you in that familial slowness, where things assure you they will remain the same forever and you can just laze about in that promise. In the comfort of someone else's cabin capsule, I was able to enjoy that very home feeling. It was a perfect way to begin our Thanksgiving.