For years, the Methow Valley has been home to large number of summer cabins and a destination for family and reunions. To hundreds of families who visit here and spend quality summer vacation time at a family cabin or at weekend campouts, sharing in memories, traditions, and building bonds, this is a very special place.
August is the quintessential family reunion time, as families reunite at old, familiar homes passed down through generations, or at their new getaways to start building memories and forming new traditions. Our family has a cabin, tucked away in a quiet bay on a lake in Idaho. It’s been part of the fabric of our summer getaway for 30 years, and I imagine the Methow Valley holds similar traditions for those who make this their family rendezvous.
Vacation homes have special eternal quality to them. They are like an old friend, the kind you don’t need to small talk with, because you can pick up right where you left a year ago — perhaps a decade ago. When you enter the home, the smell comes rushing back, eliciting a fond familiar flood of good times. The knick-knacks that sit on shelves, though worthless in dollar amount, hold innumerable value by their simple enduring presence; they too, are like old friends. They remind us of times we’ve had and a promise of more.
Collections of special items are a hallmark of a well-used cabin. Perhaps your cabin has a collection of river rocks plucked from countless floats and or from hours meandering river beaches? Maybe there’s an osprey feather fallen from a perch hanging from the chandelier, or an antique fishing lure hanging from a hook beside a hummingbird nest that sits in the corner window sell. Every year or so, some items disappear, always to be replenished by new wonders to the collection.
Our cabin has collections of hats and sweatshirts. Each item has its own origin story. Some of these clothing items were once owned by great-grandparents, no longer with us. They tell stories of Canadian fishing expeditions, golf trips in Hawaii, college football, or graduation trips to Disney World. Wherever the sweatshirt or hat originally came from, it now lives at the cabin as a permanent fixture, reliably there for the taking for anyone who’s feeling chilly or needs to shade their head. Windbreakers and raincoats are among the bunch, too, which come in handy on the boat.
Books line the shelves, creating a collection unto themselves. I always wonder who read them and left it for others to discover (especially “Shotgun”). They represent thousands of hours of reading, gifted by one reader to next. Below the books, board games stack the shelves, representing countless hours of laughter, and occasionally tears when poor sportsmanship gets the better of sunbaked, over-tired children.
The cabin, the campout, the place and the collection — they become sacred after decades of memories. Who will ever read “Shotgun” or wear that ugly sweatshirt? Probably no one. But I know, come next summer if I forget a book or my jacket, the cabin will provide.