As a child, we had one glorious week every summer at the family cottage on South Twin Lake, just 35 miles west of Itasca State Park. The days were filled with boating, fishing and swimming, while the evenings were consumed with board games and ghost stories. That cabin has always held a magical place in my childhood memories.

But due to the family dynamics of the previous generation, South Twin stopped being “my” lake; my parents found other summertime adventures for us. I later married into a family that had its own wonderful cottage, and Big Chippewa Lake in central Minnesota became the magical summer getaway for our children.

Ten years ago, the property on South Twin became available. My husband and I weren’t looking for a place of our own, but he saw the investment potential and I felt the emotional tug. Years of neglect and deferred maintenance meant we would have our rehabbing hands full, but we jumped in.

Our kids, then teenagers, were conscripted into helping us on that first visit after we assumed ownership. Cautiously, they followed us from the car, along the uneven path of cement pavers, and through the web-encrusted side door. Once inside, they were too shocked to even gasp. Musty furniture was covered in graying plastic sheets. Dead moths lay in the base of the sink. Years of kitchen grease stained the mottled vinyl behind the stove. Frayed curtains hung from the living room windows.

After several minutes of silent horror, our son turned to me and said, “Mom, do you really have happy memories of this place, or did you just say that to get us to come here?”

It’s been 10 years, tens of thousands of dollars, and a lot hard work, but the kids are happy to visit now!

Amy Anderson, rochester