I complain about the cabin a lot.
The cabin. The Cabin. I don’t own it. That honor goes to my husband and father-in-law. It was my husband’s grandfather who built it.
And because he’s the one that built it, I don’t hate it.
Most of the time I’m neutral about it. It’s the way I feel about the Disney+ Star Wars series that aren’t The Mandalorian. I don’t love Obi-Wan Kenobi. But I’m not turning it off, either.
The Cabin is Obi-Wan Kenobi.
My catalog of complaints is legendary. No air conditioning. No internet. The water turns my hair orange. The bugs are black serpentine things that super-duper scare me.
Listen. I’m not above killing my own bugs. I’m not. But my line in the sands of Tatooine is serpentine animals. I won’t get near them. Not happening. I mean, why does anything that’s not a snake need to be shaped like a snake?
Sorry. I found a slithery black bug in the shower once and obviously still haven’t recovered.
But that’s why I love autumn at The Cabin. All the wriggly things go away. The air turns crisp as the forest around The Cabin turns gold, umber, and a flaming crimson. The cast iron stove burns with a warming woodsmoke so therapeutic it should be venerated.
So I would appreciate it if bits of dead things weren’t left by my car.
See, we were at The Cabin that first weekend in November, the one that was ridiculously warm.
Yeah. No fire lighting the fireplace. Wriggly things still lurking about. Warm enough to be on the lookout for snakes when walking my beagle who either A) doesn’t see the snakes or B) doesn’t see the snakes until he’s right on top of them.
It’s fine. I can put on my big girl pants about the uncooperative weather. I used it as motivation to recycle more. Walk instead of drive. Turn down the thermostat.
That Saturday, we decided to go out to dinner. That’s no small endeavor. The Cabin is on a mountain, in the middle of the woods, above a derelict one-room schoolhouse and crumbling cemetery. Our closest neighbors are malcontent recluses called Pig Man and Cat Man.
I desperately want to do some headstone rubbings in that crumbling cemetery. But I can’t overcome my apprehension of the mammalian monikered men feared by the rough-and-tumble guys living around The Cabin.
Anyway. Dinner. It was Saturday and we were headed to dinner. I packed up my passport, mylar blanket, flares, hand-crank radio, and water purification tablets because going to dinner at The Cabin is basically akin to the Lewis and Clark expedition.
As I reached for the car door, I noticed a turkey feather atop the carpet of autumn leaves decorating the forest floor. Have you ever seen a turkey feather? They’re long and colorful and look like colonial pens.
I love them, which is something I never thought I’d say, but the perk of marrying an outdoorsman is developing a love for feathers, scat, animal footprints, and butchering game.
Wow. I’m so far away from the girl who decorated her first apartment entirely in Pottery Barn. So, so far away.
But scat rocks so what can I say?
I saw the turkey feather and leaned over to pick it up.
“Why would you do that?!” my mom exclaimed when I told her the story.
I don’t know. I didn’t even think. It was pretty and I wanted it and I picked it up.
And now you maybe understand why I fear all things outdoors, raised as I was by a mother perplexed by the need for a turkey feather. Once, when I pulled into the Temple of Doom, a mob of deer crowded the lawn. I told my mom.
She thought I should spend the night at the Temple of Doom to avoid the risk of driving past the deer.
I really did not stand a chance of turning into an outdoors-loving person. Weird that I jumped feet-first into marrying one. We should probably explore that.
But we have to finish talking about the turkey feather.
I picked it up. It was … heavy for a feather.
That was probably because of the turkey bits that were still attached.
Chunky, bloody turkey bits.
I dropped the feather. Then I burned my hands down to the bone so I wouldn’t be eating dinner with dead turkey amoeba parasite-coated hands.
Come on, Mother Nature. Was that necessary? I’m trying here. I like scat! Why did you have to corrupt my love for turkey feathers?
We went to dinner and I ordered a Troegs Perpetual IPA because The Cabin is near Hershey and I picked up a turkey feather strewn with dangling viscera.
We ate dinner and talked and connected. Only Nixon could go to China and only The Cabin can make adolescents connect with their parents.
We packed up our leftovers and made the treacherous journey back to camp. Arriving at The Cabin, I scooped up my purse and Styrofoam of linguine, sidestepped the gooey turkey feather, and beelined it for the door so a snake wouldn’t get me.
That was when the Styrofoam gaped, dumping linguine, shrimp, pesto, and tomato into my purse.
Into my purse!
My glasses, my car keys, my lip balm — they were all coated with oily, garlicky pesto. A tomato was wedged into the corner of my purse. Linguine hung from the straps.
I don’t even want to talk about the shrimp.
I love The Cabin in autumn. I do. But unseasonable weather? Turkey guts? Purse pasta?
I call no fair. Work with me, Cabin. Work with me.
“Buy yourself a new purse,” my husband said. “You never buy yourself anything. Buy a new purse.”
A new purse? How did I get here? A new purse coming out of a Cabin weekend?
That just makes The Cabin The Mandalorian.
And I love The Mandalorian.