One day, I said, “It’s nice here. We should buy property and move to the mountains.”
This all started when we hooked up with a real estate broker friend – “We want to see every cheap crap house under $20k in the Northern Adirondacks.” And we did, from Keeseville to Paul Smith’s. We looked at a schoolhouse that had been jacked up off the foundation, and left there (pictured). Another house’s foundation had completely gone downstream on one corner – Black Brook was the basement. All for $70k. We thanked the owner and fled, telling our agent that evidently, we couldn’t afford a house with a swimming pool. And finally, we found a run down dump of a place that actually seemed to suit us. Just outside our favorite town. On the bus line to NYC. And we adored the little ramshackle village and the neighbors. Suckers.
We certainly were not going to stay in a hotel while cleaning the thing up. So I started rigging. It was a MacGyver fantasy – a 45 gallon trash can to save rainwater, a bed frame built out of a door, a garden hose hooked to a sump pump. I took a shower with the garden hose in the utility room because there were so many holes in the floor I knew it would just drain outside. And then the house guests came. Bats. Spiders. Ladybugs. Squirrels. The (actual) horror stories about dead previous owners didn’t help. The coupe de grace was finding an ID bracelet with the previous owner’s name engraved on it, and a horrible, sad letter from his estranged wife. To quote myself – “That’s it. I’m outta here. Tear the friggin thing down.”
In our better moments, we were clever enough to remember that this whole thing is supposed to be fun. A place to hang out in our beloved mountains. We bought a prefab cabin and decided to just choke on the $2500 it cost. I called an Amish shed builder, ordered what we wanted, and our brand new 140 square foot beauty came on a truck two weeks later. And this thing is slick! Beautifully built, solid as a rock, and tight as a drum. I built in a pseudo-bathroom and rigged up water in laundry sink, added an outdoor shower, installed the generator out back, bought a nice indoor-safe propane heater, hung an antler lamp, built a storage loft, bought a double-height air bed, insulated and planked the inside walls with pine. It’s been a year, and we still love this thing. It’s my favorite place in the world.
When we visited the property a few weeks ago, we actually were not even going to go into the cabin, because of the snow. Pretty buried, and all the way out behind the house. Ultimately, we found we wanted to just hang out at our own place for a while, so we shoveled our way in. Upon swinging the door open … what a strange sensation! Yes, it was spotless and just as we left it. Yes, it heated up instantly when we turned the heater on. Yes, the comfy chair and the piles of pillows and quilts were a welcome sight.
But, in a bigger sense, it was like meeting an old friend that you had forgotten you were fond of. It felt like we had opened the door to our honest to goodness home for the first time – perfect comfort, perfectly realized. All from a little shed.