The third in a series of pieces written to photographs taken by Nicholas James Seaton on our autumn/winter 2013 shoot in Canada. Each focuses on an element, albeit a new kind of element.
By Evie Wyld.
By the time you reach the cabin, you’ve been on the move for a month, sleeping in bivouacs or, if the weather holds, in the open, nestled in your sleeping bag, the drawstring tight. Your nostrils are raw inside.
Sleeping under a roof, with the air still over your skin, and with the night locked outside – the idea of it fills you with something like warmth – like finding your brother’s stash of easter chocolate when you were a kid – a blissful wrongness. You sit on the steps to unlace your boots- it does not feel right to bring the outside in.
Inside, the air has been kept still a long time. It smells like someone has hidden a small pool of stagnant water somewhere. It is warm though. You pause a moment, weighing up the best thing to do, but then you prop open the door with your boots, and new air rushes in, takes up the dust, licks the walls and throws out the dead air with its warmth.
When you close the door, the cabin is small. You light the fire – left ready to burn by the last guest. People have been here before you, have considered the dead air. In the morning you will collect firewood to replace what you’ve burned. The first time you have thought of another person in weeks.
The sun has started down and with your boots off you don’t fancy a ramble in the woods this evening. Instead you stare at the fire, listen to the splinter of dry wood. Rather than lighting the lamp, you unhook the board from the window to see the last of the light, but behind the wood is only empty space – no glass, and the wind shoulders in again, snuffing the warmth from the fire. You rehook the window board – you are either inside or outside – no room here for in between.
In the cupboard, the excellent fire builder has left a bottle. You will not be able to replace it, but maybe an offering of sardines or rice – a gesture of good-will if nothing else.The drink coats your throat and makes you for a moment miss company. You wonder about the morality of having more than one glass, and then take the bottle and a chair out onto the dry grass outside. The cabin is for sleeping and until that time comes you choose the trees, the air, the drink and the fading light.