Friday, December 3, 2010

The Continuing Story of Shabo-Mekaw

A few days ago, I got a pretty surprising and exciting email.  Surprising- because the person it came from is someone I had believed to be dead (sorry, Ken!); exciting- because so many questions I'd had for so long were finally answered.

Okay, let me back up a bit.  This all has to do with my little piece of heaven in the country, about which those who have followed me for a while have probably read plenty.  If you're not familiar, you can read my most recent post about it here, where I give a short tour of the "yard", and show off some recent construction.  Here's the Shabo-Mekaw post, where I go on about how beautiful it is, and make several statements which have now been proven false.  This post features some lovely shots of the area, coupled with a poem by Walt Whitman; this one showcases the beauty of Shabo-Mekaw as well.  I couldn't possibly list all the photos throughout this blog that were taken at this most sacred of places.

Yes, I am eventually getting to the point of all this.  (I used to work for a principal who would go on and on forever and then say, "...and I said all that to say this", and finally come out with it. But I digress...)   I was contacted by the man who had the cabin built in 1959, who I had mistakenly believed was deceased- Ken Lobitz!  We have exchanged several emails at this point, along with pictures, like this one of Ken in 1935, holding a muskie his father had caught:

How cute is that? I love this picture!

We found out that the cabin was not built of redwood from California, as we had been told, but is white cedar from Michigan.
Here's what it looked like in 1976...

...and here it is now.  It was in pretty bad shape when we bought it, and we have worked very hard trying to restore it as much as possible.  We had to replace the roof, which was partially rotted, with a new metal one.

The wood on the outside of the cabin had not been stained in many years, and was covered in mildew and caked with grime and goo.  We cleaned and stained it, and are now in the process of caulking all the gaps.  Our plan is to eventually insulate, and then cover it with cedar siding.  We've also replaced the two large windows- one in front, the other in back.

Here are the three acres of white pine trees Ken planted in 1961.  It's hard to tell from the photo, but they're gorgeous and HUGE.  I'll have to get someone to stand next to them, to provide a frame of reference for the size.

I'm sure the Kinniconick Creek looks much different than it did when Ken was last here.  The "swirl hole", a deep pool at the point where the creek temporarily forks to embrace the island, has changed considerably just in the six years we've owned the property.

With each Spring flood, the water is slowly breaching the tip of the island, changing the shape of the swirl.  The floods have scoured the island on the side facing us, leaving us a view of mostly rocks.

The pond Ken built didn't hold water, and when we bought the property, probably had about two feet in it.  We had it re-dug (re-cored, I think?), and it's better, but still leaks a bit.  I don't regret it though; it looks beautiful.

This is a copy of a map we found under the glass top of a little table in the cabin.  Years ago, Ken drew the map and documented on it everything he had done to the property.  I added what we have done so far (only on the copy; the original is carefully stored away); it's now framed and hangs on the wall in my hallway.  I treasure everything associated with Shabo-Mekaw, and am keeping it together as a kind of 'scrapbook' of the place.

The fireplace was so cool back in the '70's!  When we bought the place, this whole area was boxed off behind ugly white paneling.  We couldn't figure out why anyone would do such a thing- until we pulled off the paneling and found a wet, moldy mess.  The roof had been leaking right beside the chimney; water was running down the side of the stone, which was covered with moldy insulation and other things I'd rather not think about.  It took us a long time to make repairs and get the chimney working again.

It was wonderful to see how beautiful the inside of the cabin looked.  We're still working on it, and making slow progress.

No matter what has happened over the years, and despite many changes, Shabo-Mekaw remains a sacred refuge for me, a place where I feel a deep connection to nature, and where I find the peace so lacking in my daily grind.  So, Ken, I feel I owe you a huge debt of gratitude, for what you did then, and for being a kindred spirit and new found friend.


  1. What a lovely post Sharmon. I love all the photographs and what a wonderful place it is. You must be very happy!

    Have a great weekend!

  2. How nice to be able to pull the bits and pieces of the story together now. What a treasure you have and I can see why it would be such a special place for you.
    xoxo Kim

  3. Really enjoyed your update. I know how much the place means to you. It's always so fulfilling to find the history of our personal sacred places. Just think of what you will have to pass on!!!! Regina

  4. how delightful Sharmon! May you celebrate many joyful, peaceful, glorious hours in this sacred space you have renewed!

  5. how wonderful to read of your sacred place, the hard work you have done and the joy you have found here. Thank you for sharing your tale.


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