“My favorite lake is my lake up by my cabin. Lake Trout. It is the clearest of all the lakes. It is the freshest and most abundant lake. My lake is made of pure glory.”

That’s what my son Jake wrote in his grade school journal entry May 11, 2004, earning him a smiley face from his teacher. Seventeen years later when I happened upon his notebook, I smiled, too.

Jake is now 26, a college graduate, and living and working in Iowa. His brother, Tanner, 24, is doing the same. Aside from visiting during some holidays and seeing grandparents, the cabin is the biggest carrot to lure them back to Minnesota for a visit. The cabin is so full of great memories.

Our cabin is on the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, in Crosslake. It started out as a one-bedroom place with an old electric stove that doubled as a heater, and an outhouse. With the help of my sister and brother-in-law, my parents bought it because it was on their favorite lake and had a perfect view of the sunset. They tore down the cabin a year later and began building an A-frame log home. My parents’ dream came true one weekend at a time. Although they did most of the cabin-building work, it took a village of family and friends. Once the log homebuilder built the shell, family and friends helped insulate, sheet-rock, hang cabinets and doors, and cut, stain and hammer lots and lots of logs and other wood. Any extra log pieces were used for things such as building firewood boxes and an entertainment center. It’s still a mystery how my strong, proud dad built that huge entertainment center in the basement and got it up to the main floor by himself. He died March 19, 2017, at age 84. Especially in his later years, he loved to ask us over and over, “Do you like being at the cabin?” He was so happy that our answer always was “yes.” His warm and fun presence lives on.

It took seven years to fully finish off the cabin. Summer after summer, all five grandkids — Hayley, Jessie, Bobby, Jake and Tanner — dove into cabin life, doing things they didn’t get to do at home: wrestling matches on the water trampoline, skiing and other water sports, chopping wood with Grandpa, building bonfires, and eating all their favorite cabin foods (especially whatever Grandma Jan made). There were Chinese checkers, Rummy 500 and sunsets, too. All the trips to Crafts and Cones for ice cream. Hearing Grandpa tell us for the millionth time that his big treat as a kid was getting a nickel on Saturdays to buy a double-dip cone.

With the help of our family cabin photo album, these memories are permanently etched into our family history.

Laurie Mazanec, Lino Lakes