Cabin in the Pines

    For years, Indie had a cabin down by the river.  It was named the “Cabin in the Pines” after the Flatt and Scruggs number, but most of the time we just called it the cabin.  It’s gone now- washed down the river in the great flood- but we still have the memories.

        There were two routes to get to the cabin.  The high road was by the blacktop, and then one turn off it onto a dirt road.  It was well maintained, and the way we brought in the visitors, though there were not many.  For the most part, the cabin was like the Bomb Shelter- a bluegrass hangout.  The regulars did not need directions and came in by the low road, a rough trail of ruts that ran right by the river.  It warn’t much more than a pig path.  How in the world a half drunk Indie’d negotiate his motorcycle through there in the dark was beyond me, but he never wrecked even once.  I was always sober but I’d a wound up in the dang ditch had I tried that.

        The cabin was beyond rustic.  The floors were wide wood planks Indie’d gotten out of the mill when they tore it down, and there was no central heat or air.  He did have a fireplace and an out-of-service pot bellied oil heater. 

        It was a place to play music and hang out, but Indie did have a T.V.-  or two that is.  One was an old floor console that had sound but no picture.  On top of it sat a 60’s vintage black and white portable with a picture but no sound.  It had a couple of droopy rabbit ears, and only got two channels, but was servicable ’cause all Indie liked was the horse races and baseball.  Sometimes he’d have the sound on one channel and the picture on the other.  It could confuse you.  If you weren’t careful at times you’d think Seattle Slew had just hit a home run.

        There was a stereo but if it played anything other than Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanleys or John Hartford I don’t recall it.  When we were at the cabin we made the music for the most part anyway.

        Indie had some fine cookouts down there.  The most famous was the “Wild Beast Feast.”  He knew these old boys who’d work the river bank at night and catch snapping turtles.  They cook ’em up with onions and potatoes in a soup called “cooter” or turtle stew.  As for me I stuck to more standard fare.  Cooter and groundhog wasn’t my thing.  We had a German Pathologist come to town, and he and Indie became fast friends.  Dr. Anselm would send for some kinda bratwurst from up North and it was my favorite.  The hickory smoke would waft through the woods and I could tell they were on the grill from way down the river. 

        And the coffee.  Bluegrass folks keep coffee on round the clock and Indie was a true bluegrasser.  His favorite was this Blue Mountain variety he’d get from a buddy who would bring it back to Indie from his mission trips for the church.  Man did it smell good.

        For the most part not many females frequented the cabin.  Not that Indie was against women, in fact he was quite progressive.  I recruited the first lady Doc to the County.  It met some resistance, but Indie was supportive from the get-go.  “I figure she’s got M.D. behind her name as good as I do Bibey.  I’m all for her,” he said. 

        But the cabin was not very feminine.  My Marfar came on occasion and brought her banjo player Geraldine, and when Dr. Lucas came to town Indie held an informal reception for her.  She came right on down there and acted like it was the Hilton too, and had a fine time.  Dr. Lucas is a great sport.

        Indie had a lot of vices but for the most part it wasn’t women trouble.  Well, there was the one French foreign exchange student.  The girl wasn’t much of a student at least as far as academics.  She was enthralled with Indie and bluegrass fiddle though.  Indie’d come through town on that motorcycle, and the little French girl’d wrap those graceful arms around him and hold on for dear life.  The only English phrases she learned  the whole time she was here were “play Sally Good’un” and “Cool Whip, Indie.”  Ms. Jenkins was not impressed.

        The heck with lawsuits, that was the worst fix Indie ever got in.   When the girl got kicked out of the dorm for a curfew violation, Indie thought the only hospitable thing to do was put her up in the cabin.  I wasn’t surprised when Ms. Jenkins didn’t see it that way.

        “GG Indie.  Are you crazy?  If I was to take that girl in my Marfar’d skin me!”  It was one time I had to side with Ms. Jenkins.  She’d been way too loyal to Indie to be treated that a way, and I told him so.   Ms. Jenkins was near a Saint who’d tolerated all manner of Indie’s goings on.  The storm blew over, but I told him if he ever got in that kinda trouble again he was on his own.  I’ve never seen Ms. Jenkins that mad.

        Indie grumbled for a while, but later had to concede it was the right thing.  Years later, he couldn’t remember the girls name, and Ms. Jenkins was still there to stick by him.  I told Indie a man should hold a loyal woman close.  I saw him at the Nursing Home last week, and he still says it was the single best piece of advice I ever gave him.

        Like I said the cabin is gone now, but over the years it served as a meeting place for many a serious discussion.  At night it was very quiet out there.  All you could hear were hoot owls and whippoorwills or the water as it splashed over the river rocks.  I knew winter was over when I’d hear the banjo frogs and spring peeper chorus down at the the river.  It was a good place for a man to think his way through a problem.  Someday I’m gonna tell y’all more about the cabin.  I’ll never forget some of the events that transpired there.

Dr. B

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4 Comments on “Cabin in the Pines”

  1. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Your sqeamishness with regard to food is probably your loss. Some years ago John McPhee (a great writer about almost anything, but especially the outdoors) wrote a piece about a biologist in Georgia who specialized in analyzing road kill. Not being the kind of person who believed in waste, he cooked and ate the fresh stuff. According to McPhee (who also took a trip down the Susquehanna river with Euell Gibbons eating nothing but what they found streamside), the food was tasty, nutritious, and fresh. Also, think about that great bluegrass tune “Five Pound Possum” in which the driver runs down a possum by roadside in order to feed her family. Best version, twelve year old Katie Wilson of the Wilson Family Band. I like Indie’s style. – Ted

  2. drtombibey Says:


    Lord have mercy where did an English Professor from up North learn all this? You, sir, are a bluegrass gentleman and scholar; the premier photojournalist of the genre.

    Dr. B

  3. pandemonic Says:

    There’s a place like that in the Phantom Canyon just south of Cripple Creek. Although I’m a mountain girl in a past life, I would still get squeamish taking that dirt road down. It wasn’t much more than two ruts in the hill. I took my kids up about five years ago and they had a blast. I was eyeing my lack of cell phone bars and praying we’d come out of the other side alive.

  4. drtombibey Says:


    Back in my Boy Scout days I had some mountain goat in me but no more. These days I’m not as sure footed. Now I’m a terra firma kind of guy.

    Dr. B

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