I spent this past weekend in Maine, closing the family cabin down for the winter. Beds need to be aired out from the summer and bedding packed away from the reach of dust and mice, water pipes need to be drained (thankfully I have help with that) and the needles and leaves that fell on the roof this fall need to be swept off to prevent damage during a long winter of freezing and thawing. It’s all rather unglamorous, but very necessary.
It’s always a rather bittersweet time of year. Up until four years ago, my only experience with the cabin was in the summer. Now that I live much closer I’m very lucky to have the ability to enjoy it more, and I still get a little giddy being there this time of year. I often feel like I did as a kid when all the summer people left my hometown for the winter: very lucky that I get to have this place to myself, to see it when few others do. It’s no less special, just a little different.
For one thing, it is desolate. It is so quiet you start to imagine hearing things. So dark so early that you look at the clock expecting it to be 8 p.m. and it’s only 6:30. As you walk down the lane, cabins are closed up, window blinds are drawn, boats and docks are out of the water and picnic tables are up against trees. The only activity is from a few birds bustling about.
Everything is cold, stark and bare—including the mountains—who this weekend were dusted by snow. Everything seems to be telling you that you really don’t belong there anymore. It all stands as a silent witness through the winter until a few months from now when the lane will once again be filled with noise and life.
As with most things this time of year there’s a feeling of nostalgia; it pulls at your heart as everything is laid bare without the trappings of summer leaves. Before I left, I went down to the lake and stood and admired the view that I’ve taken in hundreds of other times, memories filling my head. As I stood there, I could see the wind coming over the lake in the form of whitecaps quickly approaching our shore. Then the wind hit me, bone-chillingly firm, telling me that it was time to put aside nostalgia and wistfulness and leave. There was no more delaying the inevitable, just a slow walk up the hill to my truck and a final goodbye, knowing I would return again next year, filled with anticipation of another summer at our special place in the woods.