We became cabin people late in life. We were about to retire from our time-consuming jobs when I thought about the 150 acres of land we owned on the Whiteface River in St. Louis County. I suggested to my husband, John, that we build a little cabin, so I could get back Up North where I grew up.

As we began planning the cabin, John discovered that I didn’t want electricity or indoor plumbing. He was skeptical about going without those amenities because he’d always lived in big cities. He referred to my cabin as “Joan’s Folly” and was quite certain I would change my mind.

Well, we hired a builder to build the cabin and frame in the interior walls. The building crew started in August; in 11 days, the exterior was finished. Then board by board, we put pine paneling on the walls. Then, we laid pine flooring. We brought up the old wood-burning cookstove we’d bought, deposited it in the cabin and closed the place for the winter. We didn’t return until April.

The next summer we finished the interior and still I didn’t want electricity or plumbing. I wanted to return each spring and find everything in good shape. No broken pipes and no broken appliances. No television, no noisy things. I loved it! John saw how happy I was, and he renamed it Joan’s Delight.

It wasn’t long before we made life a little easier. A deep well gave us good, cold water and an outstanding old-fashioned barn yard hand-pump. A garage to store ATVs and wood for our heating stove was next. One summer we built a sauna. Now we have a nice warm (hot) place to bathe. We’ve added trails through the forest for foot or ATV.

Most evenings we have a campfire and watch the river flow by. Best of all is when neighbors come over for happy hour by the fire. We eat in-shell salted peanuts and feed a few to our pet chipmunk. Without a doubt, the best thing about our cabin is the year-around neighbor friends who visit us and keep an eye on our little house in the big woods. Twenty years on, the cabin is a building we like, but the neighbors are people we love.

Joan Petroff, Bloomington