Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin   13 comments

Posted at 4:42 pm in farm,sabrina,sage

As you can see in the above photo, Sage has been busy growing up over the past couple of months. She and Sabrina have gradually become good friends. A lot of that has to do with her learning not to do aggravating things such as tugging on Sabrina’s ears or tail. Despite not looking or sounding much like a pup anymore, Sage still does her best puppy barks for me if I seem to be looking at her a little too long, or get out my camera. She will lie on her side, kicking her hind feet and flipping tail up while making sharp puppy barks. I shot this short video clip during a recent performance. Believe me when I tell you that this sharp, high-pitched bark is nothing like the unusually deep, gutteral bark which she employs while investigating strange noises outside of the house in the evening. It actually seems impossible that a single dog could be capable of making such diverse sounds. Sometimes I have to wonder if she’s possessed by demons as she makes the weirdest vocalizations. I’m not the only one thinking this as I often catch Sabrina staring at her as if to say, “What the hell kind of sound is that?!”

In other news, there have been some rapid developments since my last post a couple of days ago. It seems that my farm is now sold. I signed papers to that effect yesterday. The closing is at the end of August (yes, that’s very short). However, that suits me fine as I had been planning to get on the road fairly soon and have already moved most of my belongings into storage. Now, I’ll just step up the pace a bit as I finish outfitting the van for my autumn and winter travels.

Yesterday, while looking for something quite unrelated, I came upon a passage which reminded me more than a little of how my van is coming together. It’s from the novel “The Adventures of Captain Hatteras” by Jules Verne, and describes how Dr. Clawbonny, the ship’s physician on an expedition to the north pole, has outfitted his tiny cabin:

Dr. Clawbonny was in his element; he had taken possession of his cabin on the 6th of February, the day after the Forward was launched.

“The happiest of animals,” he used to say, “is a snail, for it can make a shell exactly to fit it; I shall try to be an intelligent snail.”

And considering that the shell was to be his lodging for a considerable time, the cabin began to look like home; the doctor had a savant’s or a child’s pleasure in arranging his scientific traps. His books, his herbals, his set of pigeon-holes, his instruments of precision, his chemical apparatus, his collection of thermometers, barometers, hygrometers, rain-gauges, spectacles, compasses, sextants, maps, plans, flasks, powders, bottles for medicine-chest, were all classed in an order that would have shamed the British Museum. The space of six square feet contained incalculable riches: the doctor had only to stretch out his hand without moving to become instantaneously a doctor, a mathematician, an astronomer, a geographer, a botanist, or a conchologist. It must be acknowledged that he was proud of his management and happy in his floating sanctuary, which three of his thinnest friends would have sufficed to fill….”

I’m now thinking that my van may have found its name — Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin.

So, perhaps some of you may wonder how I’m feeling about having sold the farm. As you might suppose, I have somewhat mixed feelings. On the one hand, I will miss this place for the memories Don and I made over the 31 years that we lived here. I’ll miss all of the trees and flowers that I planted, and the little studio building we built next to the house. I’ll miss the abundant birds, and the oldfield pastures with their many insects. And I’ll miss the Spider Ranch part of the garden where I tried to preserve an almost perfect space for Argiope spiders to build their webs. On the other hand, Don and I had always planned to retire elsewhere some day — probably to Nova Scotia. Conseqently, me staying here alone now seems like a weird existence, as though I am stuck in limbo waiting for something that can and never will happen (Don’s return). Instead, the only logical thing to do seems to be to find a new place that isn’t carrying a lot of psychological baggage — no memories of the past couple of years of struggling with Don’s illness and death. However, for now, maybe I’m not even ready for that. My mind still feels too restless and tormented to be making weighty decisions such as buying land and building or renovating a house. No. Best to do some wandering around in Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin while I try to figure out what comes next.

Written by bev on August 14th, 2009

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13 Responses to 'Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin'

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  1. I like the name Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin, but I suspect it will be shortened eventually to simply Clawbonny. I can imagine you telling Sage and Sabrina to clamber up into Clawbonny, it’s time for a long ride.

    I understand those mixed emotions. You are leaving a place after 31 years. That’s a long marriage to a piece of earth. I hope you find a new home that tugs at your heart and awakens it to all the promises of a new love. I think you’re embarking on that journey now.

    Very interesting sounds coming from Sabrina in that video. She has gotten very big and very, very cute.

    robin andrea

    14 Aug 09 at 7:11 pm

  2. This post is a clear shift from your unexpected meditative poem about being dismissed by the slow and ancient turtle to the short clip of Sage’s puppy energy being released in high-pitched yelps. Sounds as if the sale of the farm may have released you in a physical way so that you can continue your contemplative and challenging journey to the center with Sabrina and Sage.

    I like the description of Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin! And to think of your van as a rolling sanctuary!


    15 Aug 09 at 9:21 pm

  3. I love small living spaces like that! Sad about the sale of your place, though.


    16 Aug 09 at 4:26 pm

  4. robin – I’m suspect you’re right about the van — I may even end up shortening it right down to the Claw-wagon or something like that. And, yes, I think “mixed emotions” is a good way of putting it. I don’t really know how I will react once I’m gone. Part of me will probably be very sad, but I know that part of me will also feel at least a little relieved.

    am – I see the van as a rolling sanctuary. It’s funny, but whenever I start thinking about it, I’m imagining myself sitting on the bed reading or working on a drawing. I haven’t really had the luxury of doing either of those things in so long that it will be a welcome break. I do think there’s going to be something positive about leaving here — not having so much in the way of physical responsibility for this place. It feels a bit weird to think that the only thing I’ll have to worry about is taking care of the van, the dogs and myself for awhile.

    Dave – I like small living spaces too. I’ve never had much use for large buildings. Even my house, small as it is, seems too large now that Don isn’t here with me. The van almost seems more appropriate. But, yes, I can’t help feeling some sadness over leaving. Thirty-one years in one place with one person is quite a long time. To lose both within a single year is quite a change.


    16 Aug 09 at 9:39 pm

  5. Well, that’s good news if it is to you. It’s kind of weird how a complete stranger like me worries about how you’re getting along, and worries about your leaving that piece of land where you lived so long.

    But those dogs … they do look like they’re getting along. Big fluffy pillows. I hope it doesn’t get cold enough on your travels that you need a third dog.


    17 Aug 09 at 2:26 pm

  6. Mark – I can almost guarantee that, if and when we ever meet “in person”, we won’t feel much like strangers at all (based on previous experiences meeting up with online friends). It’s nice to know that someone “out there” has my best interests in mind. Regarding selling the farm, it was a huge decision for me, but made somewhat easier by going away and spending last winter in Bisbee. It confirmed what I was pretty sure would be true — that, given the right place, I would be able to feel just as at home there as here. Since arriving back at the farm in April, the feeling has been more one of “familiarity and convenience” and less of feeling a connection to the place. I’m pretty sure (or at least, I hope) that I’ll find other places where I can establish new connections — perhaps many and not just one. We’ll see. Yes, Sabrina and Sage are getting along very well now. Big fluffy pillows just about describes them. They’re both looking quite good — Sabrina is in far better condition now than she was a year ago, so I’m comfortable with taking her on the road again for this extended journey. Two dogs will be quite enough though!


    18 Aug 09 at 6:17 am

  7. What a great passage about Dr. Clawbonny. I sometimes fantasize about having been a scientist during the great Victorian Age of Exploration. Having a cabin fitted out like that (except with a lot more entomology equipment, and prepared for a voyage to the tropics rather than the arctic) figures prominently in the fantasy.


    21 Aug 09 at 8:19 am

  8. Doug – Isn’t it a neat passage? I couldn’t wait to post it here. You’ve probably read plenty of accounts written by Victorian naturalists, botanists, entomologists, etc.. Me too. I love them. Some of these travelers were incredibly intrepid, going to places that are relatively hostile even in this day and age.


    21 Aug 09 at 11:36 am

  9. Bev, I am happy and sad about the news. I never got to see the farm up close, though I feel like I know it from your photos. And your upcoming journey in Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin is so appealing to me. I know it will be a wonderful time for you; know you’ll be on my mind while you’re on the road. Write often!

  10. Bev, such good news that the farm is sold – you have been waiting some time for this to happen, and now that it has you can be on the road with Sage and Sabrina and Dr. Clawbonny. I so wish I that was going along with you.


    24 Aug 09 at 4:58 pm

  11. John – Believe me what I say you’re not the only one who is both happy and sad about the farm being sold. Throughout each day, my own thoughts wander from relief to sadness. However, as you’ve also commented, the journey ahead is appealing — as always, regardless of how I might feel from day to day, my curiosity can still be tweaked by thoughts of what places I will go and what I might see along the way. I think this trip will be very unlike last year’s in many ways — somewhat less troubled and painful, and a little more contemplative and studied.

    Cate – Yes, it really is good news despite any fleeting misgivings. In many ways, my mind moved on out of here last year. This season’s return was more or less to take care of business and wrap up what remains of our lives here. Much as it’s difficult to leave, I’m also looking forward to casting off and heading out with Sage and Sabrina in Dr. Clawbonny’s Cabin. A couple of other friends have mentioned that they wished they were coming along too. I think that might have something to do with the season, and also the point we’ve reached in our lives where we long for journeys to those places we hace never been and may never see again.


    25 Aug 09 at 6:05 am

  12. “the point we’ve reached in our lives where we long for journeys to those places we hace never been and may never see again.”

    I’m feeling that way these days, too. Dad used to call it “itchy feet”, but it’s something more, something I can’t quite put my finger on.

    I love the Clawbonny quote. We’re in the throes of extreme downsizing, and I’ll hold onto that picture as a sort of guide.


    5 Sep 09 at 2:24 pm

  13. Susannah – Yes, it is something more than itchy feet. I have a friend who does quite a bit of traveling. She’s several years older than me. She says that, at this point in her life, she realizes that, if she has traveling to do, she’d better get moving because time doesn’t run backwards. I think maybe that’s what I’m feeling, even more so since Don died as it has made me even more aware of the passage of time. I was already very aware before, but it’s a lot more acute now. There are still a few things I wish to see and, more and more, having a house and objects feels more like an anchor than anything I much desire.


    6 Sep 09 at 8:03 pm

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