It’s funny, the things you learn about the person who lived in a house before you. In our case, the cabin is just a getaway, but the previous owner, George, lived there year-round for 25 years (according to the realtor).
During this renovation process, I feel like I’ve gotten to know old George a little bit thru the things he left behind and what he’d built. I’m not sure I’d like the guy — in fact, I am fairy confident that we have very little in common — but I do admire his ingenuity and flat out moxie.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about our neighbor in time.
1) Dude loved to hammer. If George built it, sturdiness was the number one priority. We’ve ripped out bookshelves held together with 4″ nails designed for decks, and wood paneling attached with dozens of nails per piece when two would have done just fine. He was either single-handedly propping up the nail manufacturing industry or one day he stumbled upon the nail sale of a lifetime. I guess if you live alone in the woods, you need something to keep you busy.
2) I’d like him with me if I was stranded in the desert. Originally built as a campground community, few of the older style cabins nearby have running water… it was camping, after all. But George figured out how to run water from the natural spring across the road into a cistern under our deck so we have a continuous freshwater supply. He trained a small waterfall to flow into a cement bowl, into which he embedded a water line that runs under the road. A mini well pump under the kitchen sink and a small hot water heater completed the system. Let’s not talk about plumbing codes, but it’s a genius use of existing resources that would make MacGuyver jealous.
3) He wasn’t ready to leave. One of the things that most struck me when we first saw the cabin was that it was frozen in time: clothes in the closet, toothbrush in the medicine cabinet, and half a cup of coffee on the kitchen counter. It’s rare to get a snapshot into a stranger’s life with such intimate detail. From this, we guessed that George fell suddenly ill and never was able to return to his home in the woods. The realtor shared that he had moved instead to Georgia to be with relatives. I hate to think that a survivalist like George was taken down by something so routine as a heart attack or stroke, but I suppose even the mighty must fall. Godspeed, Georgie boy.