When I was a boy growing up in Chicago, my grandpa built a cabin in northwest Illinois. It was two long blocks from Wonder Lake, the nearest waterway, but we had swimming rights at Beach #2.
I spent many summers at Grandpa’s cabin with my parents, two sisters and brother. We would go swimming twice a day but not before we ventured into the backwoods and picked a quart of wild raspberries apiece.
My mother baked homemade bread in a coal-burning oven almost every day. We slathered butter and homemade raspberry jam on a hot slice of freshly made bread. What more could we ask for?
Dad loved to fish for carp with dough balls. He soaked the carp overnight in vinegar and saltwater and then baked them. One carp would feed our entire family.
We had electricity but no running water or bathroom. The hand pump for water was out back, as was the outhouse. Once a week the iceman hauled up a 50-pound block of ice and placed it in our icebox.
At night Dad would get out his guitar and we’d start singing around the campfire. We loved “She’ll be Coming ’Round the Mountain When She Comes” and “Dinah” and “Home On The Range.”
A friend nearby had a humongous lawn on which we played world-champion croquet matches.
When I moved to Minnesota, I met Mary. We got married and raised two boys. “How can we live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, and not have a lake home?” I asked.
OK, she said, provided that: 1) It was only a two-hour drive from home; 2) The lake bottom was gradual so the boys would not drop off and disappear and 3) Our lake home would not keep us from traveling the world. Done, done and done.
As a mathematics teacher, I loved geodesic domes. Mary, also a mathematics teacher, readily agreed. So we found a slice of paradise near Aitkin and built our dome. We have enjoyed it ever since.
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