A Winter’s Day at The Cabin
A snowy adventure on the superhighway of slow
The trip to The Cabin in the winter especially is the most romantic thing.
First, there is the packing: the careful selection of only the most comfiest of the coziest clothes, and the warmers, the fleecy fabrics for swaddling oneself, embraced for the bracing conditions brewing outside.
There’s the gear for adventure, cold-proof, water-proof, 100 proof: Gore-Tex, Arc’teryx, Schlitz and whiskey. We ski virgin pistes, above feet of snow. There is no noise, only the calls of birds, the urgent batting of wings on the water, the occasional snap as moose and deer forage for snow-steeped sustenance.
But before all this happens, you must get there, and this is not a guarantee. Sometimes, we leave under the cover of night, others we chase the dawn, arriving after dark. Either way, it’s a harrowing half-day on the highway, on snowy byways and winding, windy passes. Terrifying at times, I must cover my snow-blind eyes as we fishtail through whiteouts. If only I could sleep through the nightmare outside!
But after that awful, beautiful, and life-affirming, near-death drive, you arrive at a snowy wonderland, with bluebird skies and snow-kissed cedars and pines, bearing the weight of the season’s bountiful precipitation on bending boughs. All the week’s provisions; the roasts and beans, the bottles of wine and parcels of cheeses and treats we might not allow at home, get secured to sleds, a tetris-y tangle of bungies and prayers that you harness across your chest before you strap on your skis.
It’s a slog, as you pull and ski for miles, questioning every bean, every ounce of wine, every gram of glass. But finally, there, blanketed in snow and framed by lodge pole pines, is the cabin, never more beautiful, more inviting than in this idyllic moment, which can only be earned through heartache or some other discomfort, because weariness creates the conditions where this is the most perfect place possible, plucked from your dreams and placed here on earth, a wonder to behold.
You take a moment to feast your eyes and replenish your heart, renewed in the belief in magic.
But it’s cold, so one can behold for only so long before your other senses catch up with the moment and you scurry, scrambling to relieve the burdens of that sled and tumble through the door, to begin the work of getting The Cabin and our stomachs heated.
Immediately, the cooking begins. Out come the beans, the wine, the roast as a stew assembles. The hot fat and velvet aromas of meat browning, of boozy hits of wine deglazing as cutlery attacks cutting boards.
Finally, we ascend the rafters to don the most prized pieces of our cozy collections, the ones we dreamed about incubating our goosebumps as we struggled across the snow on unsteady, overburdened legs.
Today’s entertainment is out the picture window. We claim our chairs and chunky afghan blankets to sit before it, heated by the incandescent glow of the setting sun and a fire growing inside the pregnant wood stove. We read and banter, but most of all, we hope to spot a moose or a fox, perhaps an owl, maybe a somnambulistic grizzly. Any of this is possible, so we wait, in stillness. All we hear are icicles melting and the occasional thunder of snow sliding off the roof, losing its grip on the shingles as the cabin warms beneath.
The snow and temperatures get so deep, one must dig The Cabin out and defrost it.
This is the scene, every day, before we rest in downy featherbeds, weighted by a pastiche of patchwork quilts and full bellies, to dream within a dream.