My great-grandparents emigrated from Sweden to Minnesota, where my great-grandmother’s sister lived on farm acreage on a northern lake near Duluth.
Soon they bought a lot from her sister. There were towering pines that reminded them of home. In his time, my grandfather built his own cabin. In 1949, my parents began their own cabin legacy. The lot was cleared and the cabin was built with wood my father scavenged and the labor of my parents’ hands. It was a simple one-bedroom cabin with a small kitchen for the wood stove, a dry sink, and a living/dining area. A rustic bridge over the seasonal creek led to the outhouse. Water was hauled from the neighbor’s pump and heated on the wood stove. At night, the windows glowed from the light of the kerosene lamps.
To the dismay of my sister and me, electricity came to the cabin in the late 1950s. A living room was added to the cabin and later a boathouse. Saturday was sauna night at Grandpa’s down the shore.
We grew up at the cabin surrounded by grandparents, aunts and uncles and a multitude of cousins. Our father died in 1973, leaving our mother a young widow who was unable to manage the financial and maintenance needs of lake property. Because our parents had instilled in us the love of family and our cabin, my sister and I, along with our husbands, took over responsibility for the cabin.
Little changed while our children were growing up, but when our children began establishing their own families, we were no longer able squeeze everyone into our sacred space.
After 11 years of renovation we now have a cabin with indoor plumbing and bedrooms enough for each family unit. All of our children and their spouses and grandchildren contributed their talents and sweat equity to the project. When we are all there, we total four grandparents, eight children, eight grandchildren and six big dogs.
It is a place where family ties grow and we connect with our creator’s goodness as we enjoy the bounties of lake life. Our cabin legacy continues to the sixth generation. For this reason we have named our sacred place “Kinship Cabin.”
Sue Friest, Eagan