The North: I call it my womb place, the place I return to when I need to remember where I came from.
As generations trickled down through the Great Lakes, my grandparents chose land for themselves near Finlayson, Minn., for a two-bedroom cabin with red log siding and bay windows facing the sunset. After Grandpa died, Grandma continued to run the place with dignified sass throughout her last years.
Now, for the first time since Grandma died, I revisit my little corner of childhood magic, remembering everything. The lazy summer days watching bobbers float, baited with worms from a coffee can, among the lily pads. The paddleboat rides to the chorus of loons and bullfrogs. The long nights of northern lights and crackling campfires. The tales of lost fishermen and lake spirits.
I feel the familiar energy that seems to have accumulated here, an energy that only happens in favorite places. We’ve each left our trace as the years have gone by: additional rooms and grandchildren, forgotten fishing poles and furniture. Fighters, lovers, friends and pets have come and gone through these doors. God knows we’re not perfect, and neither are our dreams, but it’s all we have. I want to write it down, preserve it so it won’t be forgotten, our little corner of history.
My grandparents are considered the “Greatest Generation,” and I applaud them for building this sanctuary of wonder for us. We come here to, as we say, “get away,” but more and more I feel I am returning. Returning to the stories of my origins, to the wind, water and wildness of the north. I’m a millennial, raising a yet to be named generation, but all of us are dreamers who need spaces like these to wander and discover who we are.
Lisa Ryan, Stillwater