Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I Have, I Want

“It’s a writing cabin!”

The words were out of my mouth before I realized that I was saying them. In the stable building on the Saint-Gaudens estate in Cornish, NH, I had been strolling past antique carriages and wagons. I suddenly stood at the door of the stable hand’s quarters and saw a table and chair by a window. Laid out on the simple checkered tablecloth were food, books, light – nothing superfluous, nothing missing for a morning hour’s diversion, an evening’s engagement for a thoughtful individual.



The compact one-room quarters reminded me of the writing cabin of naturalist Edwin Way Teale. I had visited his 200-year-old farm in October 2007. Shortly thereafter I read one of Teale’s descriptions of his literary refuge:

As my eyes wander about the interior of my writing cabin, they encounter the broom, dustpan, poker, and shovel behind the open-faced Franklin stove; the rustic rocker where I read; the straight-backed chair beside a folding table – a table inherited from a forest camp in Maine – where I write; the lightweight typewriter that traveled with us through all the seasons in America and the pack basket made long ago by our son, David.

A measure of the impact of the space I visited that fall afternoon should be apparent in the title I gave to this blog and the photograph I attached to the heading and one of the first essays I posted. I concluded that early post:

When you acknowledge the role writing plays in your life in the way that Teale did, you dare to dream…

I’m getting ideas.


One of my friends and readers at the time tuned into the passion behind my identification with a writer like Teale:

I passed a small colonial brown barn on my way home. It sits about 75 feet back from the main road and is near but not attached to a colonial home of the same color... As I was sitting at the light, I looked over at the quiet barn and I pictured the brown barn doors slowly swinging open. There you were behind them, with a warmly-lit workspace behind you reflecting the barn board interior… a desk, chair… all the stuff that makes up the life you want all comfortably situated.

So it should not surprise anyone to learn how moved I was one morning this past week when I stood by the door of one of the rooms where I now live. Fresh from a shower and ready for breakfast, I saw the checkered tablecloth on a table by the window, the open laptop on the table, the simple white curtains on the window, the bookcases, the bowls and mugs and glasses, the lamp on the deep window sill – my breakfast space was a writing cabin!

I had moved into a writing cabin this past year – without initially calling it that, without realizing that this simple suite of rooms could do for me what the one-room log cabin had done for Edwin Way Teale fifty years ago: provide sanctuary, provide space for thinking one's own thoughts, provide a regular place where one could write.

Sitting with coffee and thoughts this morning, I understood the ambush of the question that tries to elicit the answer: “I have what I want.” Much better, much healthier the perspective that looks at the days and the hours and the rooms and the conversations that make up life these days and can prompt an individual to say: “What I have, I want.”

And I do.

4 comments:

MperiodPress said...

I am so happy for you, so very happy. Yes, sanctuary space, thinking space, writing space, being space... inner and outer space...it is all so important. And takes creating....but in intimate conversation.

Maybe that's a reason for writing cabins, not writing houses or mansions? The dialogue is a whisper that needs comfortable, familiar proximity to be heard. Hmm.

Donald said...

Just back from travels and very moved by your comment. Give me a chance to muse some more on what you have expressed so beautifully.

Ur-spo said...

you are a very fortunate man.

Donald said...

I sense I am. I have reason to be grateful.