My Danish immigrant grandfather, Peter Axel Rasmussen, built what is now the family cabin in 1942. That date is carved into a cement block in the fieldstone chimney. I was born five years later and can’t remember a time when the words “we’re going to the cabin” didn’t inspire adrenaline-surging excitement. Growing up, we would spend most weekends during the summer at the cabin. Friday after Dad finished work he would pack tools (depending on the project of the weekend). Mom would pack groceries. And my two brothers and I would be perfect nuisances questioning why we weren’t on the road yet. The two hours it took to get there seemed like forever. As soon as we arrived, we would rush down the 40 stairs to the water’s edge. To this day, looking out over the lake is — and was — exhilarating and soothing.
I learned how to fish at the cabin. Armed with cane poles and worms, Dad would take me and my brothers out to search for the elusive crappie or bluegill. We learned later how to fish for bass and northerns. When we got back with our catch, grandpa would gut and scale the panfish, cutting off their heads and frying them whole. He would fillet the northerns. He stuck by his word that whatever we caught he would clean and cook. We ate a lot of good meals at the cabin. The only mercury levels we were concerned with were in the thermometer.
A combination of the July heat and cool lake water taught me how to swim. Occasionally, we were attacked by leeches or we would cut our feet on freshwater clam shells. After we got the speedboat with the 40-horsepower Evinrude, we learned to ski; first on two skis, then on singles. I remember having to wait one hour after eating before we could go swimming. If there was no one to watch us, then we couldn’t be in the lake at all.
The cabin was inherited by my mother. When she passed, the cabin passed down to the kids. I now share ownership with my sister and we still go every spring to put in the dock and reconnect water pipes. We take out the dock and disconnect water pipes in the fall. Several feet of lakeshore have eroded away. Neighbors are encroaching from both sides. The 50-year-old speedboat is falling apart. There are foundation issues that must be addressed. Not to mention taxes, insurance, utilities and a lawn that needs mowing. And yet, whenever I think about going to the cabin, my adrenaline begins to surge, even at the age of 67. I can’t wait to get back.
RICK MORRIS, WASECA
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