Cabin Country: We thought a cabin wasn't for us

  • Updated: February 7, 2014 - 12:14 PM
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After resisting cabin culture for years, Curt and Lori Nelson made an unexpected impulse buy ­— a modest lake home, which they’ve since fixed up nicely.

We talked of many dreams as a young couple — our first tiny home, children, a collie, a small garden. We knew what we wanted. But we also knew what we didn’t want — an RV, a boat or a cabin. After watching our parents owning two of everything and trying to maintain two properties, owning a cabin did not appeal to this young couple. All our parents ever did was drive to the cabin, cut grass, dream of improvements that would never become reality and drive back again to the city. Thankfully, my husband and I had learned from their experiences.

Thirtysome years later, our small house had been outgrown and replaced with a larger two-story. The children were now in homes of their own, with families of their own. The collie had been buried in the back woods, and many gardens had been harvested. We took a midwinter day trip.

We drove down the highway, past farms and small towns and down a curving country road. A tiny, log-sided cabin sat at the end of a lane like a sad-eyed puppy in an animal shelter ad appeal. It greeted us with face-freezing winds, a cold lake, woods and 16 acres of open land. A “for-sale” sign hung lopsided by the front door. Oh, dear, who would want such a place? We laughed all the way home about such a funny, abandoned dream someone had built.

The next day I started to imagine family fun there. Grandparents could rent a pony for the little ones. We would cook hamburgers for friends. We would make a bonfire by the shore. My husband, Curt, said, “Please, no. Not that place. All we would do is work, work, work. We would own two of everything, just like our parents.”

Like a good wife, I let the conversation go … until the next day. “I had a dream last night,” I said. “We had a huge garden on open land and an orchard with a fruit tree for each grandbaby.” He rolled his eyes and was silent.

Well, maybe we should make the hour’s drive and look at it again? Maybe I would come to my senses. We walked a path through frozen woods. “You mean all this land would be ours?” Curt said when he saw it again. He was hooked. Within a week, the paperwork was done, and we waited with some fear to see what we had done.

Like happy squirrels building a nest, we started packing. “We’ll need a riding lawn mower and a tiller,” Curt said. Boxes filled with can openers, Grandma’s antiques, old dishes and pans. “We will need two of everything,” we said happily.

Twelve years later, we have fruit trees named for our grandchildren, a deck, a dock, an oversize garage and a great room. Our hearts have moved to the country. For us, it is all about cabin life!

SEND US YOUR FISH 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.

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