|Boston University professor Lou Ureneck is publishing a Thoreau-like book called “Cabin.”|
It is about his experiences building this cabin with his brother in Stoneham, Maine.
Finished Outside View/Courtesy: Lou Ureneck
An early blueprint of the cabin.
For most people, the thought of building a home from scratch would be enough to lay the foundation for a mid-life crisis. For Lou Ureneck, building the framework for a cabin in the woods is precisely the means for avoiding such a breakdown. While he gathers the various items he’ll need to complete the job, he also assembles a story to go along with the assembled structure, in which he tracks the course of the project, from the point of inspiration to his family’s first Thanksgiving dinner inside the cabin’s walls. It makes for a charming new memoir, based on a blog he wrote for The New York Times during the construction process, with the straightforward title Cabin.
Ureneck’s motives are more complex than simply wanting a place for getting away. He conceives of the idea to build his very own cabin in the deep woods of Maine, not far from his brother Paul’s Portland home, as a response to the spate of bad fortune and difficult transitions taking hold of his life in the midst of his middle aged years – a failed marriage, a recently deceased mother, a newly empty nest, and a health scare of his own to top it off. This new getaway house, he figures, would provide respite from the complications of the outside world. Most likely, it would also reconnect him to his brother’s family after too many years of distance, both geographic and emotional. And having his brother’s family around might also provide some vital manpower from the pouring of the concrete foundation piers to the building of the timber-frame structure, the rafters and ultimately the roof.
Sure enough, through months of hard work and one stomach-wrenching scene involving a bruised fingernail, the family builds a new house, and the author begins to reassemble the parts of his life that have gone missing over the years.
Rest assured, this is no vacation house, and it’s not a designer log cabin. Ureneck takes pains to make those distinctions. On the contrary, he’s hoping to build something on his five-acre parcel in the lee of the White Mountains that’s right out of the 18th Century Transcendentalist playbook. A shelter, in Thoreau’s words, is one of those things deemed “necessary of life,” and yet, the precise form of shelter makes a tremendous difference. Civilized life offers its advantages, but only when “it has produced better dwellings without making them more costly” can the condition of man be said to advance (“and the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it”), Thoreau writes in “Economy.” With that criterion in mind, Ureneck’s cabin would likely pass the Thoreauvian test, built as it is with the utmost intentions of simplicity in mind.
That’s not to say that there aren’t limits to the project’s success at maintaining that simplicity. Even as he makes sure to use local lumber, Ureneck finds that in a globalized world, he’s unable to avoid using nails from China.
Building Frame/Courtesy: Lou Ureneck
The construction of the cabin unfolds over the course of a year, and as it passes through its many stages, the chapters in this book include a few asides. Digging holes for the foundation is an excuse to explore the glacial history of the region. Collecting logs for the siding allows for a history lesson about life among the Algonquin and Abenaki before the area’s forests were cleared to become farm and pasture land. Sometimes these digressions help to characterize the land upon which the cabin is being built, but too often they tend to drag. Parts of the book could also use some reorganizing. Readers are likely to find that it is the personal story being told that resonates most strongly.
A memoir about, say, redoing a kitchen to stave off retirement age boredom doesn’t sound quite as appealing. But the lure of a cabin in the New England forest ensures that readers will be enchanted by the prospect of inhabiting such a space. Ureneck’s evocations of what it is like to come upon an unsuspecting bull moose at the edge of a pond or to observe the soft tones of the icy Maine landscape in wintertime palpably bring to mind the aspects that are most sacred in nature. And if he throws in an account of designing a septic system, that’s just another item on the checklist toward making the woods his own.
Fuente: Book, Greenspace September 23, 2011 By Jordan Sayle (http://www.planet-mag.com/2011/book/jordan-sayle/assembled-from-scratch/)
El tema central de este Blog es LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA CABAÑA y/o EL REGRESO A LA NATURALEZA o sobre la construcción de un "paradiso perduto" y encontrar un lugar en él. La experiencia de la quietud silenciosa en la contemplación y la conexión entre el corazón y la tierra. La cabaña como objeto y método de pensamiento. Una cabaña para aprender a vivir de nuevo, y como ejemplo de que otras maneras de vivir son posibles sobre la tierra.