We spent last night in the one room cabin known officially as The Innermost House. Th cabin is on the grounds of Massachusetts Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary and has no electricity and no bathroom. It has three beds, a table and two chairs, and a monstrous, hulking woodstove.
The last time we stayed, it was November and not cold enough yet to use the woodstove. This time, with temperatures in the twenties and promising upper teens overnight, we started the fire immediately upon arrival. Christophe, recovering from a 15 mile run that morning, and Simon, just being normally petulant, elected to tend the fire while Malcolm and I went out for a walk. We passed thirteen or so deer (there’s an overpopulation problem at the Sanctuary) and I apparently irked some earnest young woman by not being awed enough by the animals. I wonder where she’s from that deer are really that much of a novelty.
We walked down the Drumlin Trail, and to the gazebo in the middle of the woods with the collapsing phoebe’s nest in the rafters, and past the nostril tree. The trails were emptied out by the time we came to the Stone Bridge, which looked a good place to deploy our birdseed. The chickadees and titmice here are accustomed to handouts and will perch on an outstretched palm for a seed. Malcolm was still enough to attract two visitors.
The light was fading as we headed back up to the cabin, and upon opening the door we were met by a wave of what seemed at first to be pleasant warmth, but which I soon realized was actually searing heat. The boys were gleefully stripped to their underwear by bedtime, and the upper bunk bed was uninhabitable due to a stifling blanket of hot air.
I was sleeping by the door and, half awake, continuously adjusted it so that waves of cold would flow in across the floorboards. The air was so dry, even though it must have been 95 degrees, only a little sweat collected at the nape of my neck and the backs of my knees. It was like inhabiting a food dehydrator.
By midnight, it had cooled enough to be comfortable, and by 4am it was cold. I started the fire again, with some trouble, and we woke at seven to a warm room and modest breakfast and the boys already asking when we could come back.
The cabin is available for rent ($30 a night) year-round to members of Mass Audubon. Though it has no bathroom, it’s only a short walk up the trail to the sanctuary’s restrooms. No showers though. I’ve never been to the cabin in summer, but I suspect it might be sweltering. If you go in winter, you should be careful not to allow your overzealous husband to superheat the tiny space. The woodstove is massively oversized for the room, to be fair, so it’s easy to do. But I think you should try it. It’s good to be a Mass Audubon member anyway, and if you’ve always been a bit intimidated by camping, think of this as your starter kit.