Transitions: From the Outhouse to the Big House

After living in a tiny, rustic cabin in the woods for ten years, I've left it behind and moved in with my boyfriend and his dog and cat.

Made of rough hewn logs, my 16' x 20' cabin had a small living area with a fireplace, a kitchen with double sinks, but no running water, and a loft bedroom, complete with built in bookshelves, clothes closet and a space for a writing desk and chair.

Located on Noview Avenue in Homer, Alaska, the cabin did in fact have a partial view from the loft bedroom window, overlooking the woods and in the distance, Kachemak Bay and the surrounding Kenai mountains.  From the living room and dining room, the view looked over the garden and from the kitchen, the back woods near the outhouse.

Yep, rustic equalled no running water which meant no plumbing.

I sought a living space like this after living in Homer for nearly a year in a small house, complete with both water and electricity.  I met many individuals and couples who lived off without plumbing or electricity and in some cases, without either.

I wanted to try my hand at living in homesteader fashion.  And so it was that I came upon this cabin that was to become my home for over ten years, surrounded by woods, with a delightful strawberry garden in the front area, and frequently visited by eagles, moose, porcupine, rabbits, ermine and even black bear.

Here, I held parties, encouraged friendships, nurtured my creativity, enjoyed the peace and tranquility of life in the woods, and lived with my cats Gidget and Spankee.  

I've left the cabin and both Gidget and Spankee have died.  Sprinkling their ashes in the bed of forget me not flowers, I've moved in with my boyfriend, his dog and his cat.  

Now, I wake up every morning with a vast view of the bay and the mountains, drink tea and hot chocolate on the large deck, and work on my photography in my studio, with the view of the fields out back, with their acres of fireweed, flocks of Sandhill Cranes and pale, round hay bales.  

I write in the loft, a nurturing and quiet space, tucked above the living room, where the heat wraps around my ankles and I devour the view.

I love my life with Taz and I love sharing his home, this large house with its seemingly endless rooms and hallways, and its vast views of surrounding Alaskan beauty.  

I sometimes joke that I wish we could have picked up my cabin and moved it on to Taz's property, so I could have accesses to both places I have come to love.

I will always be grateful for my time on Noview Avenue.  From the first few years when there was no road and I had to walk in to the latter years when the landlords moved in across the yard.

In the winters, before the road was put in, I used my body to forge an access through the waist high snow, and in the spring, when the road became mud, my feet would be thick and heavy by the time I got to the door.

Loading my laundry in to my large backpack and walking to the nearby laundromat every few weeks was an adventure.  Friends would comment that it looked like I was running away from home, and inevitably, some kind soul would stop and ask if I needed a ride.

Filling an empty garbage bag with plastic water jugs, I'd walk or drive to the grocery store, where I'd fill them with water, using the access tap near the front of the building.  In the winters when I chose not to drive, I'd call a cab and lug my water jugs home or, more often than not, someone would see me and offer me a ride.  

Then, I'd tie a sled to my waist and haul the heavy jugs to the cabin, across the snow and ice.  Later years, when the road was put in, it was much more simple and I'd just unload the water jugs from my car and carry them in to the house.

Because I chose, sought out this life, it was always a pleasure and never a chore.  This life was adventurous, creative and fun.  I never for a moment regretted it.  There were times when it would have been nice to wake up and take a shower without having to get dressed and leave the house, but it was never a burden.

Coming home to my cabin was always a delight and my heart would overflow with joy at the lights on in the window, Spankee perched on the bookshelves in the loft, overseeing the driveway.

When Gidget died while we were in Canada, Spankee and I made the trip back up the Alaska Highway, and back in to our cabin.  When Spankee died just over a year ago, what had been my home for so long began to feel empty.  I had never lived in the cabin without him and my home became a shell.

Life is full of transitions and changes, some we choose, some choose us. 

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