About a mile through the woods from my childhood home in Balsam Township, there is a small lake. As a kid I walked to the lake and dreamed about owning the small one-room cabin among the tall pines on the far side.

I graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1969. Before moving on to a new job in California, my Uncle Milton said, “Ronnie, Pat’s going to sell his cabin on Lake 31. You gotta buy it.” By that time I kind of had lost interest. Heck, I was moving to California. But just before leaving, I decided to take my uncle’s advice. I offered my relative Pat $3,000 for the small cabin on 200 feet of lakeshore. I told Pat he could continue to use the cabin for the rest of his life. I didn’t plan to return anytime soon. Pat surprised me by taking my offer.

While in California, I rekindled my love for that lake. I couldn’t wait to move back to Minnesota. Two years later, with a new job in hand, I did — to Minneapolis. Frequent 200-mile treks followed to the cabin. I soon realized, after getting married, that we needed a bigger and better cabin. Running water, perhaps.

After buying more lakeshore property, I was ready to start on what has become my 40-year hobby — today called Loon Lodge. I wanted to build with good-quality materials that were affordable. I went to auctions and searched newspaper ads. I bought a bunch of used half-round cedar siding logs from a seller on Lake Minnetonka, and bought several windows at an auction.

With the help of a couple of friends, we built a 24-foot-square cabin with a screened porch in back. Soon after, and because of my Finnish heritage, it was clear that we needed a sauna. My wife and I cut down and peeled enough spruce logs to make that happen. We skidded the logs across the lake one winter and let them dry for a couple of years. Then, we found someone to help hand-scribe and assemble the logs into a sauna. I thought I was in heaven, but that was just the beginning.

As the family grew, we added on to the cabin. I continued to collect materials where I could. Today, the cabin has four-plus bedrooms, two bathrooms and granite countertops — a fairly classy cabin without too much expense. Over time, we also rebuilt the old cabin into usable and classy condition.

The cabin has been 40 years in the making, but it’s really taking shape.

Today, our family of 22 (including 12 grandchildren) spend nearly all our free time at the cabin. I am collecting materials for the next addition.

Ron Kannas, Minneapolis