We drive 280 miles north. We pack our gear on sleds. We trudge down a winding trail from car to lake. Then, we head across that familiar, frozen, snow-covered body of water toward our cabin, sweet cabin. Some might call this crazy or maybe nonsense. But one needs a good bit of sense to keep warm on this frigid plot of land on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Because our cabin does not have road access, we have a dock on both sides of the lake. In the winter, we haul our luggage on sleds through a path in the woods, down a flight of stairs and onto a dock before crossing the lake. A fluffy parka, wool socks and layer upon layer of clothing make the windchill bearable.

A beautiful sight awaits us at the cabin. It's a picturesque landscape with snow-laden trees. The boughs hang low with the weight of heavy snow. Everything is serene and undisturbed. As lovely as it is, the deep snow brings a good deal of work. The next step is shoveling our way up to the cabin. We scoop and dig and wade through the snow. When we finally make it, the thermometer reminds us of a Minnesota reality. Outside it's 8 below. Inside, the mercury is friendlier at 6 above. The next step is starting the fire.

Once all of our luggage is hauled inside, the path to the outhouse is shoveled, water is on the stove and the fire is burning, the next order of business is relaxing in front of the wood stove. Throughout our stay, we spend quality time chatting over coffee and hot cocoa by the fire. The fire demands routine stoking in order to battle the ever-present chill on the other side of the wall. We cross-country ski out on the lake and find ways of creating our own entertainment in the deep snow.

Here, at the cabin, a person can step outside and hear absolutely nothing. If one listens closely, he may hear the faint song of a distant bird. And on a blustery day, the sound of wind whistling in the trees and whipping the snow across the lake is powerful. Here, a person can enjoy the sight of the stars at night, unspoiled by any city lights. Here, a person escapes the rush, chaos and commotion of city life. Here, one builds unforgettable memories with family. The frigid subzero temperatures, lack of running water and absence of road access do not keep us away. It's our cabin, sweet cabin.

Clair Gloria Elrod, BLOOMINGTON