To learn more about why I'm writing this new blog series, and my inspiration for writing it, READ THIS.
When I was about ten, I asked my father if I could build a tiny house in our backyard. This was long before the idea became a socially coveted thing. I had an older sister, with whom I shared a bedroom, and two brothers who complicated things even more. All I wanted was a sanctuary away from everyone else. Someplace where I could hang out with the dog, read books, write stories, practice my flute, and just not be bothered. Much to my tremendous disappointment, my father said no. I asked him for several years, even promising to build the thing myself… no matter how long it took… using my babysitting and newspaper route money to buy the materials. He continued to say no. In high school, I found the theatre, and discovered my sanctuary there.
Forward through adulthood, a move for three years to Boston, a couple summers on a ranch in Missouri, and then back to Detroit… a child, then marriage… and then, at last, I got my tiny house in the forest.
Quickly, this little log cabin with only two rooms, just 324 square feet, and an outhouse, became my most favorite place on the planet. Okay, granted, I haven’t been to everyplace on the planet yet, but I feel like I really don’t need to, now. The interior has beautiful knotty pine tongue-and-groove paneling, it’s got a tiny little loft, and is surrounded by twenty acres of the most exquisite forest I’ve ever seen. It’s a super-basic place… no electricity, no indoor plumbing, only a small solar system to run a dorm refrigerator, and a propane camp stove, with a covered porch, a campfire circle, and space between two huge trees for a hammock in the nice weather. I adore this place.
I’ve written some amazing stories, accomplished some fantastic editorial work, read some wonderful books, and simply enjoyed life in this space. During the day, in between writing times, I enjoy walking through the woods with Charlie, listening to the rush of the wind through the leaves and bird songs, napping in the hammock, watching the deer pass by, or going to the lake or river for a kayak trip. There is some incredible State land nearby where we enjoy hiking, too. The serenity of these places is soothing to my soul. Charlie loves frog, chipmunk, and squirrel hunting. Sometimes he catches frogs, but he always lets them go; a natural response to frog pee a dog’s mouth, I suppose.
When it rains, that’s when I’m at my most peacefully creative. As some of you already know, Drake, my muse, is a duck, and he is most at home when the skies open and bring him showers and puddles to enjoy. The sound of rain plummeting from sky on tree leaves, and the roof is like a symphony. Thunderstorms are sacred to me, and when they visit the forest, I am more comforted than at any other time. The words come easily when thunder, lightning, and rain accompany my creative process… and there is nothing so soothing as falling asleep listening to nature’s orchestra.
In the evening, after dinner, just before dark, I can hear the coyotes talking, getting ready for the night’s hunt. It sounds a little like a cocktail party underwater. Early the next morning, before dawn, I can hear their traditional howling, calling the family back to the den. Because we have bears who sometimes roam the property (I’ve actually seen one up close – relatively speaking - crossing into our property during the day, while out walking Charlie), and because it’s not a great idea to surprise a coyote pack at night, I stay close to the cabin once the sun goes down.
Evenings are for writing and reading. Some nights, when the weather is warm, I sit inside with the door open, enjoying the evening breeze through the screen door, and marvel at the raccoon family who occasionally comes to visit. Campfires in the stone circle remind me of Girl Scout camping trips. The light of a fire is hypnotic to me. There is no sound, except the crackle of the coals and the rush of the flames expanding into the night air. In the black of night, the stars are beyond fantastic. Without the light pollution of a large city, the night sky is dark and vibrant with the history of life. When I go to sleep at night, after I douse the lantern and candles, I can hold my hand in front of my face and not see it… that’s how dark the night is. It’s other-worldly. It’s amazing. When the moon is full, it’s like the nightlight of creation, lending a sense of ease to all the animals who hunt or travel in the late hours.
I love going to my little cabin in the woods for a month-long Writing Hermitage in the summer. It’s perfect. Nothing but writing, the sounds and sights of the forest, my little dog, and storytelling. Truly, I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend my time.
Someday, in the future, I’d like to make this space my permanent home. There are a few things like indoor plumbing, a wood burner, and a more robust solar system that I’ll have to install before I can safely live there in the wintertime… but until then, I’ll continue to spend my warm weather writing time in this majestic forest.
This cabin in the woods isn’t just the realization of a childhood dream in adulthood. My Tiny House In The Forest Makes Life Worth Living.
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