Cabin Country: A musical, magical place in the Wisconsin woods

  • Updated: January 30, 2014 - 2:35 PM
hide

Dan Woll constructed this remote cabin with the help of friends and relatives. Years later, the cabin remains a source of comfort and spiritual renewal.

They say Prokofiev wrote pieces so difficult he had to ask his buddy Rachmaninoff to play them. I composed a cabin too difficult to finish. Perhaps that’s the story of my life. When I think of things that have turned out, a helping hand is involved. The cabin would have been an unfinished symphony were it not for a young man I wrote to overseas. When he came back from the Marines, he offered to help. He brought along his extra-large carpenter dad, and they framed it up in two weeks. I learned many things from them, including that it is possible for a human being to throw a 4- by 8-foot sheet of plywood onto a roof. Friends with master skills in plumbing and electricity took over after the brute work was done, providing the harmony to a lyrical construction project.

My cabin is in a wild, sparsely populated area north of Hwy. 8 in Wisconsin. When I’m holed up there, I am more isolated than Thoreau was on Walden Pond. A 1-mile hike along the railroad took him into town to eat with the Alcotts. A hike that length gets me no farther than the middle of a cedar swamp, 15 miles from the nearest town, which is smaller than Concord was in 1850. I’m kind of neutral on religion, but I take the whisper of wind through tall pines as an eternal message. The sounds of the woods in harmony with nature make a soothing music. At the cabin, I sense infinity in myself and those I love.

In 2006, they told me, with little warning, that I was going to die if I did not have major heart surgery. When stressed, I tend toward impatience and anger. As I saw how this was affecting my wife and friends, I went to the cabin. Alone. There was deep snow. I remember carrying firewood from the woodshed. As I climbed the porch steps, I felt the arrhythmias they promised would take me down if not fixed. Weakened, I stopped to catch my breath and wondered if this was the last winter I would drink tea by the stove and look at snow falling through cedars. It seemed as if the evergreens were flaunting their life, verdant needles starkly contrasted against the snow.

There is a stand of birch outside my porch. As the day transitioned to dusk, moon shadows of tall trees appeared on the white hillside. I opened the door and stepped out into the moist, chill air, breathed deeply and became one with the stillness. What had seemed so unnerving back in the suburbs no longer was frightening. I slept well, and a few days later drove to Mayo with my wife, Beth. When I woke up post-op in the ICU amid the green and red glow of tubes and beeping technology, I was drawn away to the sweet sounds of my cabin in winter — the rhythm section and soul to the music of my existence.

SEND US YOUR ICE-FISHING HOUSES! Cabin Country wants to celebrate your cold-weather hideouts this winter, everything from ice-fishing houses to cozy winter cabins. Send your story and photos to cabins@startribune.com or submit online at www.startribune.com/hideouts.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close