It was a frigid New Year's Day when my parents found a lake lot for sale, heavily wooded with white, Norway and jack pines, as well as oaks and birch. On a whim, they were out driving the winding roads of the frozen winter-scape after celebrating New Year's Eve at a Pillager, Minn.-area lake resort with Twin Cities neighbors.

Mom told me they trudged through thigh-high drifts to check out the property. An old metal shed stood alone near the lake's shoreline. From the forested ridge to the frozen lake below, the view was spectacular. For Mom, this site was the ideal Up North cabin lot. In their mid-50s, my parents quickly decided to buy it, and that spring started building what soon became their retirement home.

For four decades I've called it the Treehouse, and family and friends are hosted year-round. The vintage metal shed was replaced by the wooden shed (shown). It's chock-full of our fishing, kayaking and water-skiing gear, plus lots of air mattresses and kids' lake toys. A sign near the door warns no skinny dipping until 6 p.m.!

Both Mom and Dad have died, but the towering trees Mom loved still camouflage our Treehouse from all passing boats, and the new shed is the only structure visible. From the deck's vantage point I like to watch majestic eagles fly over. I believe that my parents' spirits are soaring with the bald eagles. I talk to the eagles. "Hi Dad ... Hi Mom!" It makes me happy that my grandkids feel this connection, too, and look for great-grandma and great-grandpa high above the trees.

Susan Peterson Berger, Eden Prairie