Imagine a cottage in the woods. The siding, dark walnut panels, blends with the trees, but the sienna door gives it away as a house. On the deck, rocking chairs lilt back and forth in the wind. They are old and inviting. Cats take naps there. Before you go to the sienna door, you walk along a path lined with stones and brush, to the back of the house where you discover a fire pit with logs for sitting and sticks for s’morseing. There is a back deck and a canopy for when the sun barrels down through the trees. It is cold now, no sun barreling. At the way back of the property sits a tiny shed, with nothing inside but many vases full of silk flowers, a desk, chair, and a small fireplace.
You follow the path back around to the front of the house and walk inside, feeling the crunch of cold pine needles with every step. The sun is setting, and you can see your breath. You hope there is a fire burning in the living room. You walk up the steps, onto the porch with the comfortable chairs, and grab the handle with your mittened hand. The door is unlocked and you are welcome.
Your boots thud against the hardwood floors until they find a soft area rug stitched with Navajo patterns in bright colors. You take off your boots and curl your toes. In front of you a staircase leads up to a loft, where you will sleep, but not yet. The room feels like being inside a drop of amber. Everything is warm and bright. On the walls you inspect the various accouterments of adventure. A vintage canoe re-purposed as a bookshelf hangs above a gray couch, the bookshelves filled with camping manuals and cookbooks. On a ledge that makes its way around the room sit glass lanterns and baskets, plants, and the occasional teddy bear. Rustic California whimsy—you call it.
To your left a desk is situated against a large window where you will sit and spend your weekend writing. You run your hand against the oak, a perfectly fine surface for creativity. Outside, the sun has disappeared and a gentle snow falls against the moonlight and dusts the trees. To your left, a stone fireplace rages, sending crackles all the way through the living room and back to the kitchen, which opens up on the other side of the staircase.
In the kitchen you find your husband, or friend, or mom, or adventure partner. They have joined you for the weekend and got here early to start cooking a stew while you investigate the area and pick up extra firewood from the market in town. You give him, or her, a kiss, or a hug, and sneak a taste of the beef stew to which he has just added dijon mustard for that extra kick he knows you love. Your nose follows something sweet, and you look through the window of the oven to find a strawberry rhubarb pie bubbling in the heat. You know that means there is vanilla ice cream in the freezer, and your heart skips a beat. You sit down at the red table in front of the kitchen, and turn on the Craftsman lamp that hangs above your head. There are hummingbirds stained onto the glass, and when the light shines through you think they might fly away.
Your husband/friend/mom/adventure partner brings you a cup of coffee.
“Long drive?” he says.
“Not too bad, just an hour and half. I left Venice at 3:30.”
“Good time. Took me closer to two hours but that’s still not too bad.”
You walk back to the staircase but instead of going up it, you open a small door underneath it, where you place your bag and your boots. You look around for Harry Potter—like always—but alas, just a plain room under the stairs. You walk back through the living room and see there is a hallway behind the stairs leading to a bedroom with bunk beds that look like a tree, and a downstairs bathroom. That’s good because it was a long drive and you suddenly realize just how badly you have to pee. The cold stones of the bathroom floor send a shiver up your spine, but you like it. You try to decide between a long soak in the clawfoot tub, or a quick wash in the stone shower so you can get back to that stew—and pie. You opt for the shower. There will be time for a bath tomorrow.
After dinner, you engage in a snuggle session by the fire, reading books and talking about which hike you’ll take this weekend. Perhaps around the lake? Or up to heart rock? Once its decided, you agree to turn in early. You walk up the staircase, which is painted to look like Seussian plants and warm sunsets, and collapse onto your queen-size four-post bed. You crawl under the white sheets and handmade quilt, and lick your lips, enjoying the remnants of strawberry-rhubarb that linger there.
For the rest of the weekend you hike through the trees, dip your toes in the freezing lake, and seek inspiration in the best possible environment—where people pepper Mother Nature, not the other way around. You hike, you eat, you shower, and then you write. You designate hours of writing time where your adventure partner knows not to disturb you, other than to bring you the occasional pot of tea and perhaps a lemon cookie. You turn off the heater and don a cable-knit sweater, because it’s better to write when the world around you is cold. In the evening you read some of what you wrote that day to your husband/cousin/neighbor/adventure partner, and they love it. Of course they do. You know they are not the best test subject but that’s alright; in this moment all you need is encouragement. Tests will come later.
Before you pack up for the weekend you look around your adventure cabin and imagine all the other worlds available to you because of it. You can make a movie. You can host a retreat. You can rent it to fellow adventure-seekers. You can offer it to friends who need to get away from the rat races and the hullabaloo. You can host Thanksgiving, or Christmas. You can name it. You’ve always wanted to name a house.
Sounds good, right? I think we’ll take it.
Brad and I are running home. A little less than a year ago we proclaimed our tiny plans. Little did we know at that time how very unwelcome tiny homes would be to the grumps who create zoning laws. Our dreams are still tiny, but now they look more like a tiny-ish California Adventure Cabin. It’s an us thing to do, which means it’s perhaps not the normal thing to do, or the conventional, or the completely practical, but it’s right. It feels right, and so we run toward it.
Into the woods.