In 1996 I went through a divorce while living in South Florida. I had two young girls. A few years later I was in a new relationship and remarried.

Having no money, I called a friend who had a cabin on Flag Island on Lake of the Woods. We asked if we could rent his place for a honeymoon. I brought my girls. That two weeks there together was the best start our new family could have had.

Two years later, we bought our own place on the north side of Flag Island. It was a small three-bedroom structure built in 1962. It had hand-laid stone foundation, steps and fireplace that charmed us, and we could just afford it. Over the years our family grew to four children. We expanded the cabin in 2002 by adding an additional second floor, three more bedrooms, and a separate art studio.

My wife is from Denmark, and our 13 Danish relatives visit almost every summer. We’ve also hosted my kids’ friends and other guests. We have had as many as 28 people there at once. Nothing is more fun for us. There is just no substitute. The time fishing, sitting around a fire, kayaking, and playing badminton can’t be replaced.

Many friends have asked why we have a cabin so far away, but once they get there, sitting on the deck with the hummingbirds flying all around our heads, hearing loons, watching the sun go down, or taking an evening swim off the dock, they understand that Flag Island is a special place.

Loren (and Monika) Sheffer, Stillwater