My grandfather was an underground iron miner in Soudan, Minn., for more than 40 years. He built our original family log cabin shortly after World War II on an island on Lake Vermilion not far from the mine. Before the cabin was built, he constructed a sauna on the shoreline to store tools (and entice helpers with a promise of a hot sauna and dip in the lake at the end of a hard day's work). The cabin was built Finnish-style, using scribed, small-diameter vertical logs cut from the site. I spent many happy summer days there as a child. Later, the cabin was passed on to another relative, who tore it down and partly constructed a new cabin in a different location on the site. Thankfully, we had an opportunity to buy it back, and now our children and grandchildren are the fourth and fifth generations enjoying the solitude of this beautiful island. With the newer cabin still a work in progress, we often ask ourselves: Do we want to live differently at this cabin than we do at home? We have no running water, no TV, and no Wi-Fi. But we do have electricity — and a fine outhouse. And so we've concluded that we do want to live differently here. We will continue to make upgrades and improvements, but will keep our goal of a much simpler lifestyle on this island. We are grateful that here, at the cabin, we have all we need.

Brian Larson