It seems strange to draw a picture of a place from 15+ years ago. And yet, you would be surprised by what you end up remembering by doing it. Try it sometime! Start with the general shape of the building. Then walk through, one room at a time, trying to picture what was in the space. You’ll likely remember where the toaster was.
This is a sketch of our first cabin on Clearwater Lake. My parents bought it when I was eight years old.
At the back of the cabin, my parents built a little deck where the old kitchen used to be. The back door was the main entrance; it was trimmed with pieces of wood that still had bark on it. A screen door sat in front and was slammed so many times as we ran in and out.
As soon as you walked in, you were in the kitchen / dining room. We didn’t have running water. A pail of lake water sat on the countertop with a metal camping pot as a scoop. Outside, just a few steps away from the entrance, was a hand water pump. It must have been a part of the old kitchen. Dad built a little wash stand around it. I can remember the squeak as he tried to prime it. It had the coldest water.
The stone fireplace in my drawing looks a little strange with a funny looking piece on the front. It was a rock. It was a great old stone fireplace that someone had built; they thought it was a great idea to put a random rock jutting out the front as decoration. It was basically a hazard. So many people smacked the back of their head when standing up after lighting a fire.
There was a little cupboard on the wall before you walked into the bedroom. It was filled with old wool blankets that had been left behind in the cabin when we bought it. Blankets that now people would call vintage and spend hundreds of dollars for them. Some from the Hudson Bay Company and others with red blanket stitching around the edges. There were also plain red bedspreads, a little thicker than sheets. Ones you would expect to find at camp. And I remember Grandma Beatrice’s old bedsheets with bright pink flowers on them.
My brother and I shared the bunk bed in the bedroom. Being the oldest, I got the top bunk. I used to cover the slanted roof above my head with pages pulled out of BOP, Teen, and YM. Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt (from Legends of the Fall), and a few other favourites decorated my space. I had a little shelf above my head where I kept my Archie comics and Christopher Pike books. And my brother enjoyed shoving his feet into my mattress while lying on the bunk below, muttering the lovely things that only brothers say to be hurtful to their sisters. I also remember my parents watching the news one night while I was in bed and finding out that Princess Diana had died in a a car crash.
The mirror in the bedroom is a weird one to add to the drawing, but I did. It reminds me of Auntie Carolyn. She used to stand in front of that mirror and curl her hair with a curling iron. We still have the mirror. Although it’s wooden frame is simple and the mirror not so great, we kept it. It has memories and it’s a part of the old cabin. It hangs in the bathroom across from my bedroom.
My parents bed sat at the front of the cabin, surrounded by windows. Mom sewed little curtains and hung blinds to try and keep the sun out and to have some privacy. Because there was little space for everyone, it often became another piece of furniture in the cabin to sit on.
We had a little TV that hung in the corner above the window seats (which later became their old L shaped couch from home). I don’t remember watching very much TV at all. I think we only got CBC and I wasn’t interested in watching sports. We spent most of our time outside.
It’s funny how we long for better. How we wish for something nicer, bigger, or newer and yet some of the best memories are from that first apartment you had where you sat on lawn chairs or the small cabin where everyone slept crammed on air mattresses on the floor. It’s not so much the space you’re in but who you’re spending time with.