I was a girl from Uptown who married into a “cabin” family. It was not an instant love affair. Never having spent much time in nature, you could say I wasn’t a big fan — of nature or the cabin. The first time my then-boyfriend convinced me to go with him to the family cabin it was the farthest north I had ever been and after two days there, I raced back to civilization, having missed the city profoundly in that 48 hours.

Over time I learned all the stories. The patriarch of the family enjoyed his final meal at the cabin with many of his kids and grandkids present, walked out to the dock and had a massive heart attack, dying in his favorite place on Earth surrounded by loved ones. The eagle’s nest across the water, which grandpa had been observing for years, sent over its own patriarch to say goodbye. Most of my husband’s cousins, siblings and he learned how to swim, drive a boat, water ski and fish there. Four generations have carved out amazing memories there and now my own children consider it their favorite place on earth, just like their dad and his dad before him. Though they are also “Uptown kids” being raised in the heart of the city, they have a connection to nature that I never had.

Seeing the cabin through their eyes has changed how I view it — it is now magical to me as well. My kids long to be there and run free. They have ongoing projects that continue over years as they slowly add to a fort or work on an archeological dig each time they are there. They put bait on hooks, catch frogs and fireflies, take pride in providing dinner after a good day fishing and feel a sense of ownership to this place.

The cabin is not just theirs, though. The entire family shares it with one aunt keeping the calendar, another uncle heading up the expenses and very strict rules about how each family treats the cabin during their stay. Sometimes families have it to themselves, sometimes lots of family members are there together and often we all bring our friends to share the joy of time at the lake. After fourteen years, the cabin has become one of my favorite places on earth and I am so grateful my children have the gift of growing up with that experience.