Growing up in Fifty Lakes, Minn., decades ago, my family of 11 had no money or time for a cottage on a lake.
We’d pack the car, take the short drive to a nearby lake, picnic, swim, have our fun and return to our home on the edge of a large field surrounded by trees. My father always said he wouldn’t trade the view we had of that field for any waterfront view.
Years later when my brother, Tracy, built a cabin, he chose a spot beside a field surrounded by trees. It was no surprise. He cut and milled much of the lumber. He built the hearth with stones he gathered. Today, there is no running water or electricity, but the hand pump supplies plenty of water. We cook by candlelight or battery lamps on his vintage propane stove.
The cabin gets used mostly during grouse and deer hunting seasons. Many card games have been won and lost next to the wood stove. Treasure hunts and cross-country skiing take place on trails my brother cut through the woods. In summer, he bales the hay off the field — then it’s ready for a game of football with his sons.
He lets us use the cabin on our visits home. After the many miles we’ve traveled, it’s just what we need. We crawl into bed in the loft and hear partridge drumming in the woods, sandhill cranes and ducks in the swamp, and sometimes the howl of a wolf. Otherwise the only sound is the wind in the trees and the crackle of the wood stove. Midnight trips to the outhouse keep us from overstaying our welcome.
I grew up near these woods, but I’d forgotten how many stars there are in a clear, cold Minnesota sky. I love this beautiful cabin and know my brother and his family will enjoy it for generations to come.
Laurie McInnes, Olympia, Wash.