Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Little Boxes, On The Hillside, Not All The Same

A recent post over at The Slow Lane had me thinking about places I've lived, so I just did a quick tally: over the years, I've spent at least three months in eight houses, five dorm rooms, three apartments, two trailers, and a tent. Out of all of these (possibly excepting the tent), my favorite home was also the smallest: a spare, white-clapboard cabin in the woods, at the end of a dirt road, overlooking the Connecticut River. Surrounded by white birches and clinging to a steep hillside, it was known as The Birch Perch.

On the uphill side of the Perch was a sailboat-sized kitchen, a bathroom just big enough for a tub and toilet, and a bedroom just big enough for a double bed and a propane heater. The front/downhill side of the house was one open room, windowed on three sides, looking out over a tumbling field and down to the river. There was one small closet, one small built-in bookcase, and not much else. At about 350 square feet, it didn't quite qualify as a Tiny house-- but it certainly was Very Small by most standards. Rough sketch, from memory:

I particularly liked the kitchen, in which everything could be reached by rotating, rather than walking. It was also wonderful to look out into the woods while cooking, watching birds and chipmunks, and watching 9 watching the birds and chipmunks. And although there was nothing architecturally striking about the house, there was something exceptionally pleasing about its proportions. I never took any measurements, but I suspect that its various walls, floors, windows, and other rectilinear areas were close to, if not precisely, golden rectangles. Somehow just being there tended to put things in their proper perspective.

It had other fine features: the farmer neighbors, for example, maintained several kilometers of trails for cross-country skiing, which could be accessed by launching off my miniature front porch, schussing down the meadow, and careening into the woods. After long days of residency I often did that by headlamp. And it was across the river from a strawberry farm, which, went the wind was right, would send delicious aromas wafting up the hillside.

There were certain shortcomings as well, such as the eight-gallon hot water heater (which made the bathtub pretty pointless-- sometimes in desperation after a painful day of skiing I'd put all my pots on the stove and try to heat up enough water for a hot bath.) And, as the previous resident pointed out to me, it was not a good place for more than one person to live. Due to space constraints she wouldn't allow her then-boyfriend (now husband) to keep more than a toothbrush at the Perch. This caused some friction, and, ultimately, they vacated to cohabitate-- so I moved in.

Every now and then I think of calling the owner to see if he might sell the place to me. I've had some ideas about knocking out the ceiling, building a loft... there might even be room for two, then. At least for weekends.

8 Comments:

Anonymous s said...

Got any pictures?

9/25/08, 12:51 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

No photos immediately handy, unfortunately. I lived there before the digital camera age.

9/25/08, 12:54 PM  
Blogger Johanna said...

how did you get into the bathroom?

9/25/08, 3:06 PM  
Anonymous Valerie said...

You're so right about the kitchen. One thing I'm really looking forward to in the tiny house is having everything within reach when I'm cooking.

9/25/08, 5:00 PM  
Blogger Turboglacier said...

Johanna, you wise-ass fact-checker: OBviously there was a door from the bedroom to the bathroom, that I just forgot to draw in...

V: I will say, the one drawback to the kitchen was there was NO way two people were going to cook dinner together. Even if one was a cat.

9/25/08, 7:47 PM  
Anonymous Valerie said...

Re: cooking together: I know, I agonized over that and then figured out a way (I think) to allow for two. Now we'll see whether I can actually implement it...

9/26/08, 10:30 AM  
Blogger Claire Colvin said...

Sounds like Heaven.

9/26/08, 3:17 PM  
Blogger NeoNurseChic said...

The apartment I am officially saying goodbye to tomorrow had a kitchen like that. When I would try to cook in it simultaneously with ANYONE, it was impossible. It was tiny, and I almost feel silly having as much space as I now do in our 2 bedroom apartment. Tony is much happier with the running-around room and the large windows, although he's only lived here for a few days at this point.

You remind me so much of an OB resident friend of mine (whom I hardly ever get to talk to anymore). Just the things you write, and the things you speak of enjoying - remind me quite a bit of him.

Take care,
Carrie :)

9/29/08, 4:08 PM  

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