A Refuge for Recovery, Spring 2017 Cape Cod Life | capecodlife.com

Photo by Charles Sternaimolo

When Judi Meyer expressed interest in a tiny house in East Sandwich, her son told her she was crazy. “We were driving by, and I saw the ‘For Sale’ sign,” Meyer recalls. “I said, ‘Let’s pull in here!’ and so we stopped.” Despite her son’s lack of enthusiasm, there was something about this small, older cottage and its bare landscape that called to her.

Originally built in 1948, the cottage was dubbed “The Doll House” by the builder – and with good reason. The house Meyer stumbled upon just off Route 6A has only 314 square feet of living space. “When I first saw it,” Meyer remembers,  “I said to my son, ‘This is exactly what I want.’”

Although Meyer had previously lived in Sandwich for 30 years, owning two large houses there in that time, she had moved to Florida in 2003 and wasn’t intending to purchase another Cape property. But life has a way of altering our plans, and in Meyer’s case, an illness was what brought her back to the Northeast.

Shortly after moving to Florida, Meyer learned her breast cancer had returned. “After the diagnosis, I knew I would come to Massachusetts General Hospital for my treatments,” she says. “The treatments would last for over a year, so I realized I was in for the long haul. I also found out that I’d need more surgery, so I felt that I needed something to keep myself busy while staying close to Mass General.”

After finalizing the sale of the property in the spring of 2004, there was a great deal to keep Meyer occupied in East Sandwich, working both inside the house and on the property surrounding it. At that time the landscaping was what many people call “Cape Cod natural.” Bare areas of sandy soil contained a sparse patchwork of mosses and scruffy grasses. These were mixed with leaves and needles from the native oak and pine trees that ringed the just under one-acre parcel. “The former owners told me that nothing would grow there,” Meyer recalls. Yet it was precisely this bare canvas that called to her. “I thought it was perfect,” she says. “I told everyone that I was buying this place so that I could work on the gardens.”