OK, LOYAL READERS (BOTH OF YOU), don’t say that this scribe isn’t heedful of his public. I’ve had a request for a closer look at the writing studio (or writing hut, more accurately) from which I fire off these juicy missives. So here you go.
This humble structure originated as a playhouse (or escape hatch) for daughter Lillian, who was 12 when we bought our island cabin in 2003. With a 6-foot-square interior, it came as a kit, designed to be a cedar garden shed, and it fits nicely in the grassy space atop our rocky knoll behind the cabin we’ve come to call The Nuthatch.
Thanks to my dear wife’s Australian upbringing, the hut was first called the Wendy House, after the British term for playhouse, taken from “Peter Pan.” (You can take the Aussies out of the empire, but you can’t take the…)
Lillian was given free reign to decorate the interior as she wished. In her blooming teenager-hood, the world was one of infinite possibilities, apparently. So at the top of one interior wall she painted the question, “Why not?” She then went to the University of Washington library, where her mother worked, and interviewed foreign-language librarians to find out how to write “Why not?” in other languages. To this day, the question is painted inside in 18 different languages, ranging from Vietnamese (“tai sao khong?”) to Dutch (“waarom niet?”) to what I finally recognized the other day to be Pig Latin (“Y-whay ot-nay?”).
I’ve kept most of her decor, including the zebra-striped rug, though I did take down the many circa-2003 Johnny Depp posters (Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” film had just come out), which were encrusted with dead spiders after these many years. One poster even concealed a tiny hibernating bat that had found its way inside.
I also renamed the writing hut. It’s new name, announced by a wooden placard that Lil made for me as a Father’s Day gift last month, is “Wee Nooke.”
The moniker is taken from a P.G. Wodehouse story in which bon vivant Bertie Wooster rents a country cottage of that name. Unfortunately, a pesky Boy Scout named Edwin, committed to doing daily acts of kindness, attempts to clean the cottage’s chimney using gunpowder and paraffin, burning Wee Nooke to the ground.
So, it’s a literary name. What better to inspire a writer? I might even put in a woodstove for winter — with a chimney, of course. If so, I promise I’ll keep an eye peeled for wayward Boy Scouts.