Homemaking in the Miner’s Cabin

IMG_8266.1It has been awhile since I last wrote about the Miner’s Cabin, and a lot has happened since we first started cleaning it out a year ago. Time for an update! Early this year, Dad got the electricity working again, and also got the stove cleaned out and in safe, operational order. Light and warmth are kind of important when it comes to being productive in the winter.

So, over the last couple of months, slowly and steadily, I got the bedroom closer to livable, and Sarah helped me get one of our bed frames set up. Mom and I brought a load of bookcases, a dresser, and my desk from our storage unit in Hermosa, which is helping with the organizing of books and boxes. IMG_8273.1Growing up, some of my favorite books were Gone-Away Lake and Return to Gone-Away, two treasures of children’s literature written by Elizabeth Enright. The stories got into my imagination, and I pored over them, again and again. The story was pure joy to read, and I think as I was reading I was the little girl who visits her cousin, Julian, and the two of them on their explorations end up discovering a mysterious, abandoned set of lake houses on the shore of a swamp. As they explore the old lake houses, and Portia’s family ends up buying an old boarded-up mansion in the woods nearby, they rummage through boxes filled with ancient “treasures,” things that spark their imaginations, things from a bygone era. I’ve felt some of that same excitement as we’ve worked on the Miner’s Cabin, cleaning up and putting back to use things that had been all but forgotten. IMG_8279.1It is exciting to put the life back into a dusty old cabin, to feel it start to breathe again, with windows open and sunlight streaming in, or with a blazing fire crackling in the stove. It is deeply satisfying to see the hominess emerge, as order and beauty return to the Miner’s Cabin. It is rewarding to see the forgotten things adorn the dusted shelves, Sarah’s and my artwork and photography mingled with ancient family photos, along with the drawing that Dad had done as a Christmas gift for Grandpa and Grandma years and years ago.

IMG_8280.1Old blue Mason jars we found in the cabin loft, sparkling olive oil bottles which I’ve collected, my great-grandmother’s old pincushion, precious shelf nick-knacks I brought from Illinois, old fox furs that have been in the Miner’s Cabin for a couple of decades, family crests, a framed family tree, a chamber pot, shelves and shelves of my books, and a whole encyclopedia that Grandma and Grandpa put in the log cabin – A pleasant mingling of old and new and just plain interesting.

IMG_8286.1A home should reflect something of the people living inside of it – How enjoyable, then, to be setting up house both with things that Sarah and I brought with us from Illinois, as well as with those things that are tied somehow to our heritage.  Not only that, but the wood heat and lack of plumbing tickle my sense of adventure, to get a closer glimpse of the lives my great-great grandparents lived, as homesteaders in eastern South Dakota in the late 1800s. It will be a far cry from roughing it, but living in a 100-year-old cabin definitely has romance to it.

We enjoy repurposing and reusing, and on my agenda for this week is making brand-new curtains from some old white sheets I found while we were organizing and cleaning. Sarah and I have so many ideas for making this little place our home. Moving day can’t come soon enough! We can’t wait!

Laura Elizabeth

One thought on “Homemaking in the Miner’s Cabin

  1. Amazed at how much the two of you have worked on the old cabin over the winter. Yes, I grew up using some of those ancient items you have around you. Hoping that we may take a tour when I’m there and it is much warmer!


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