A Crone Cabin in the Woods … with a Pool?
sunrise lights mesas
river gurgles under ice
earth still turns
Another dawn walk, another day, more beauty, more grief, more compassion for the complexities of this life and we who share this numinous earth.
- Susan J. Tweit, Sarton award-winning author of Bless the Birds
In my late 20’s I developed a strange fantasy about getting old: I wanted to be a crone in a cabin in the woods. This notion came from reading Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. In that iconic novel, the elderwoman Pilate lives in a cabin, wears combat boots and carries a shotgun. She collects healing herbs and might practice hoodoo, although the revenge she takes upon her daughter Reba’s attacker is very much grounded in the real world of a knife.
Why I wanted to be a crone in the woods at that early age I don’t know. At the time I loved going dancing in my high heels. But I was an avid reader who could immerse myself in a character in a good book. I didn’t want to be a crone then; I just imagined it for my future, like wrinkles. I pictured tall trees and the creeks I grew up around. I’d commune with the wildlife. I’d trade in my heels for those combat boots when my arches wore out.
The image of the crone stayed with me into my 30’s, even as I moved from one boring apartment to the next. Eventually I finished graduate school, and my houses got bigger and nicer. Guest bedroom, en suite bath, walk-in closet, outdoor patio and then even a pool. Yet the idea of the crone cabin never completely left me.
Eventually I faced what many older people do, health challenges and a desire to retire. I knew I would find it harder to afford and maintain my pool home into old age. The next leg of my life’s journey moved me to Sacramento to be near family. As I considered my housing alternatives, it hit me:
My crone cabin! Was it time?
I eagerly explored my old fantasy. Almost immediately it began to break down.
Sacramento may be the “city of trees,” but I’d be unlikely to find bona fide woods in the state capitol.
Cabins often have archaic plumbing and electrical work. There’s no point in giving up a house I couldn’t maintain for a cabin I couldn’t maintain.
I really enjoy having friends stay over. Cabins don’t always have guest quarters.
I could live with just a fireplace in a warm state like California, but air conditioning is not negotiable. A/C is not really a cabin kind of feature.
Lastly, my pool home had really spoiled me. But I have yet to see a cabin in the woods with a pool.
The fantasy of living in my crone cabin was disappearing like woodsmoke up a chimney.
As I perused real estate listings, I resigned myself to condominiums that looked as boring as the apartments of my twenties. I sighed with disappointment every time I looked at those condo-boxes with their neat hedges.
Until one caught my eye. A blue lagoon? With trees and foliage and ducks? Where was this? Turned out it’s local! Built in 1974, it’s a bit “rustic.” I began to watch for units to come up for sale. A single; no, way too small. A one-bedroom; no, I really want a guest room. A two-bedroom, OK; but that one’s not on the water. I’d about given up when a two-bedroom facing the lagoon finally appeared.
It needed some work. But it had the guest room and my beloved A/C. My deck would be right on that blue water, on the shady wooded side of the complex. The complex also had several swimming pools.
Rustic … trees … wildlife … creek … swimming … wait a minute.
Just like that, I realized that I didn’t have to give up my fantasy: this could be my crone cabin in the woods … only this one would have a pool!
One month later, I’m actually in my “cabin.” I have combat boots, although since COVID I lean more toward flip-flops (either way, they’re not high heels). I confess that I’m upgrading the place so that it isn’t quite so “rustic.” The air conditioning works, and the guest bedroom already has a guest.
Best of all, the trees whisper in the breeze. The lagoon is populated by koi and mallards with broods of spring ducklings. A turtle and a great blue heron visit periodically. And today I’m going to a Happy Hour at the community pool.
A solitary 5:00 may have suited Pilate, but I prefer connection to people as well as to place.
So cheers, salud, l’chaim. To finding your way home, wherever that is.