June 23 WEEKENDER: Second Opinion – They don’t make cabins like they used to

I am sitting in my cabin on Shuswap Lake listening to the rain fall on the metal roof for about the tenth day in a row.

I am sitting in my cabin on Shuswap Lake listening to the rain fall on the metal roof for about the tenth day in a row.

Behind me, somewhere up the hillside, I just heard a tree fall, the water finally softening the thin, rocky soil beyond what the roots could bear.

The lake in front of me is rising steadily, already past the highest point that I can remember.  With the rain and strong wind that is in the forecast, my dock and the shore and trees that line it may all suffer damage.

Maintaining summer cabins isn’t easy, especially when the property is water access only.  Everything needed to fix, mend, repair or improve the place has to come in by boat and then be carried up from the water to the cabin.

Plus, one becomes astutely aware of the fact that Mother Nature would like her property back.

The rain, the snow, the moss and mold, insects and animals all work together to rot, break, chew and digest the cozy wooden envelope that you have built, and after a period of time, you realize how little time it would take for those processes to reduce the place to little more than a mound of mulch.

Perhaps that is why fewer and fewer people seem to be interested in building their own place in the woods.

Mine was built by a couple of guys 40 years ago.  It is a Pan-Abode-type structure made of three by six inch, double tongue and groove cedar built around a group of three, 10-inch log posts and beams.

Like the dozen other structures on this section of the lake, the cabins were all built by the owners themselves.

Today people hire somebody else to build their cabins.

Of course, the insistence on building to the established building code doesn’t help. Areas that used to be unregulated are now all coming under the aegis of municipalities and regional districts, all of which want to control construction.

The cynical would say that they want the money associated with permits.

The politicians and bureaucrats say that it is an issue of safety. I haven’t seen any figures suggesting that large numbers of people are being killed in their cabins because of poor construction, but I’m sure the bureaucrats know best.

The rain has finally stopped, and the lake is calm.  I think I will go down and check the dock and water level.

Then I better address Mother Nature’s latest calling card: dry rot in a board on my back deck. I feel she favours me slightly though. Her calling card to my neighbour down the beach was a family of pack rats wintering in his sofa.

Jim Holtz is WEEKENDER columnist and a former reporter for the Grand Forks Gazette