Editor’s note: Natalie Ostrand, 13, of Mahtomedi wrote about her cabin in her honors English class. The story was submitted by her father, John. It has been edited and condensed.

Until 2013, I never realized that so many identical gravel roads could hold so many different stories. Each of the roads told a different story, bringing me a new piece of serenity. My peaceful realization began when my family started to look for a cabin.

In winter 2013, our search began. As a 10-year-old, the process of looking for the cabin in northern Minnesota that was “just right” was an extremely tedious task. Today, however, I look back much differently. As I’ve matured, I realize it was a truly fascinating time. Three years ago, all the gravel roads seemed the same. It was just another road with some more rocks and dust. Now, I realize each was unique. None of the landscapes were the same, even though some of them were only a few miles away from each other. All of the cabins, lawns, and lakes possessed their own assortment of beauty.

In May, my dad visited the cabin that is ours today. My dad took great interest in this property, finding it the perfect size and very well-kept. He took pictures of everything there, and he came back and told my family how much he loved the cabin. A while later, the rest of my family went with him to visit the cabin. I remember it was beautiful and remote. I was amazed that we only saw one car the whole 15-minute drive from the nearest town. Everything was so peaceful. The lake was ravishing, and the snow had melted from the yard, creating that fresh rain smell.

May 29, 2013, was the first day my whole family stayed the weekend at our new cabin in Aitkin. Although I don’t recall the first weekend up there, I do recall a few of the most relaxing days on Stark Lake. One took place only a couple months ago. It was a very calm day, and the neat part was the lake. The lake was a mirror reflecting my every move without a single ripple on the surface. It made me feel at one with nature, as if I was in a fantasy book, not in the crazy reality that is life. Another one of those peaceful moments I remember at the cabin was at night. It was nearly 11 p.m., and the sky was pitch-black. It was during winter, so we walked out onto the frozen lake. My family lay on the icy lake, and we looked up at the stars. The night sky was so clear, and it looked like the stars were skating on the smooth ice. It was dazzling.

All of those similar gravel roads I went down expressed their own magnificent stories. My family finally found the story that we wanted to be a part of — the story down Carey Cove Road.