The Phantom Limb
When I visited the cottage in July of 2007, it was the week that the cottage was going to be jacked up a few feet in order to be level with the new structure that was to be built in the coming weeks. The cottage that Grampa had built was already removed, the new wing was yet to be built, and remnants of the original cottage were only evident in the old cement pilings protruding from the ground.
The door that had originally acted as a heat and mosquito buffer to the ‘back’ part of the cabin had became the front door to the cabin itself. Ann and I both commented on how, no matter how many times we opened the door to the outside, we still expected to open the door to the old cabin. I began to think of this as the ‘phantom cabin’ syndrome and was intrigued by the effect of memory on the physical, lived, experience of dismantling one structure for a new one.
I wanted to contribute something to the new cabin, but because I am so far away, I had a hard time actually helping with the construction part of the equation. For awhile now, I thought I could contribute by printing photographs that I had taken of the old cabin and putting them up in the new cabin. This idea changed a bit when I realized the photos could come together nicely in a book --– one that might find itself nestled comfortably between two Archies on the bookshelf.
This book is meant to be kind of like the phantom cottage limb; it is meant to bring together the old and new. It’s my perspective on the place, but I hope it can evoke the sense of the older building for everyone in our family and eventually find a home in the new cottage.