Friday, January 14, 2011


After the first season of Codename: Kids Next Door I was burnt.
I was fried.
I was beaten to a pulp
lightly battered
thrown into the deep fryer
and then left in the oven until I was a crispy little lump of blackened coal.

In short, I needed to get away.
So the fabulous Mrs. Warburton thought it would be a good idea to rent a cabin in upstate New York so we could escape to a nice quiet place on weekends.

What she found was a tiny red cabin nestled into a clearing in the woods right next to a roaring stream.

Nothing fancy.
Two bedrooms, each one the size of the bed.
A tiny kitchen with a cozy eating nook.
A little deck off the back.
Just right for a couple of overworked New Yorkers.

We had an amazing summer filled with equal parts exploring and doing absolutely nothing.
I myself spent an obnoxious amount of time wandering up and down the Stony Clove.
I fell in love with that stream and got to know every rock, bend and pool.

Mrs. W and I ended up liking the Catskill Mountains so much we spent most of August looking for a similar house to buy.
But alas, there was nothing as cute as our house with a stream.
(that didn't cost eleventy thousand dollars)
When we asked the owners of the cabin if they were interested in selling it, they claimed they never would.


Eventually, the summer came to a close.
I went down to the stream one last time to say goodbye.
And it was there and then I decided to make a deal with the Stony Clove.
I told the stream that if it would let us buy the little red cabin, I would promise to take care her.
I'd keep her clean of trash.
I'd never let anyone throw junk into it.
I wouldn't take any of her fish.

The stream just gurgled back at me with no discernable change.

But then, sometime that Autumn
the owners of the cabin called.
Turns out they were opening a restaurant and:

a) weren't going to have much time to go upstate
b) needed money because restaurants are expensive.

Had the stream heard me?
I thought so.

And the next thing we knew, the cabin was ours.
We didn't own a house in NYC
(because they cost eleventy buh-million dollars)
so we were thrilled to have our own little acre in the forest.

Over the next five years, we went up every chance we got.
Sometimes it was hard to find the time, especially when our first child was born.
And then our second.
But it was our little home base.
Our Secret Mountain Hideout.
I went up there by myself a lot.
That's where I roughed out most of 1000 Times No.
That's where countless KND episodes were written.
I loved it madly.

But as our family got bigger, the house got smaller.
And it wasn't really a four season house so we had to shut it down for the Winter.
We dreamed of one day adding on, or putting up something bigger.
But as I said, we didn't even own a real house yet.
Still, we loved it.

But then we moved to LA.
And much to my disappointment, there wasn't a way to get to the cabin that didn't take a whole day.
We thought about renting it...
But the money we'd get probably wouldn't be worth all the hassle.

So grudgingly, we decided to sell it.
The loss didn't really sink in until a buyer came along.
Then it hit us.
Our little cabin would no longer be our little cabin.

And just last week it happened.
The deal closed.

I hope the couple that bought it has as many great times as we had there.
I hope they appreciate how magical that little clearing in the woods is.
I hope they watch over the Stony Clove for me.
And I hope that we can one day find a little place here on the West Coast that has that same magic.


Anonymous said...

I am the sad previous owner of that magical place. It has been tempting to buy it back, as I knew you were trying to sell it.
...The restaurant is gone. Long story....if you read the beginning of Tom's post, he describes EXACTLY how I felt before I closed the restaurant (which is now for sale)....I was burnt to a crisp....

I used to frequent the Cabin in the early 90's, newly divorced...seeking a place of solitude...a place to find "myself" again. I was friends with the owners and I rented it often. I told them if they ever wanted to sell it, to let me know..." It was a pipe-dream, as it was worth eleventy thousand dollars then...and I was a poor single Mother of 3 little wood fairies.

One day, about 7 years later, I married a man. I took him there to share one of my very special secrets where I found my heart again. While we were there, we had dinner with my friends who owned it. They were ready to sell it. He FELL head over heels for the fairy tale came true...he bought it for me...with his eleventy thousand dollars.

We had the most memorable moments there. Cool summer days, skiing, picnics on the back deck and moonlight New Year's Eves on the bridge. We fit seven of us in there....tight squeeze...but easily done for a long weekend.

We miss it...and it hurts to think that those times are gone and will never return. Bitter sweet....Thanks for sharing this, Tom! xoxoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Aw! This sounds so sweet, yet sad at the same time.

brianna14 said...

don't worry Mr. W, i'm sure there's a little peice of paradise here in LA! (but it's gonna be a little hard to find)

Numbuh 0704 said...

Beautiful... Just, beautiful...

Todd Wilson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Todd Wilson said...

To the previous keepers of The Secret Mountain Hideout:

My family and I are the current "holder-of-keys" to that magical, well loved place and are truly humbled, not only by its enchanted(ness), but also by the heart and history you all put into it. Although the loss your story(s) expressed deeply saddened us, we feel so honored to have the opportunity to appreciate and care for this beautiful place and to be a part of the Secret Mountain Hideout lineage (we are all merely visitors). We don’t have a story like yours or even the previous owner’s, as ours has yet to unfold, but I will say as we first came down the drive and veered to the right past the bridge that my wife and I knew, without speaking, that the red cabin with that singing creek was the one.

We are just an architect, a poet, a baby boy and a border collie but we will take care of your little red cabin (along with Mr. and Mrs. B.). We will look after the Stony Clove and clear the trash from her shores. If either of you previous keepers ever wish or need to relive those times or if you just want to check up on her, please don't hesitate to contact us.


Kerri said...

What an absolutely perfect description of life there and the lay of the land. We are sad to see you go as neighbors, but so happy we have met you! Thank you for sharing the blog with me! I will be sure to pass this on to my parents and sisters. Please come by when you are around!