After we had been married three months, my husband asked if it would be OK to buy his parents’ lake property in Balsam Lake, Wis. He had enjoyed summers there since he was 10. Although my family had spent a week at a Minnesota resort a couple of times, I grew up in South Dakota and swam in a public pool. I had no idea what “going to the lake” meant.
We bought an older house with no view of the lake and no indoor bathroom. A wood stove provided heat. I repeatedly told our toddler, “Don’t touch it; it’s hot.” He touched it and said his first word: “hot.” We also got the aluminum fishing boat with a 10-horsepower motor, which didn’t take us far.
My husband would fill and empty a wash tub so that I could bathe, but I insisted we needed indoor plumbing. Our daughter used a portable potty chair until 3 because I was afraid she might fall into the outhouse hole. We built a small cabin with two bedrooms, a loft and a functioning bathroom in 1974. Through the years I would pack the car, pick up the children after school, and pick up my husband after work. Then, we’d head for the cabin. I at first threatened to put the cabin up for sale before calling the mortician if my husband were to die. But with a year-around cabin, we discovered that the winter season there was as wonderful as the summer. With a used speedboat, I saw more of the lake and realized how beautiful it was. And now our grandchildren are enjoying lake life. After nearly 50 years of ownership, we are happy that our son and his wife have taken responsibility.
I don’t remember when my attitude about lake life changed, but as we took a ride in that original aluminum boat over the summer, I again was grateful for the joys that “going to the lake” provides.
Marie and Tom Mattison, Edina