My mother spent the majority of her girlhood in Evansville, Minn., a town of about 400 people in the 1930s, and experienced the Great Depression firsthand.

Her family was fortunate to be able to hang on to its little cottage on nearby Pelican Lake. The lake itself, however, became a small island of water surrounded by dry land, as it shrank to almost nothing during the lengthy drought years.

In nearby Ottertail County, however, there was a clear blue lake that remained full to the brim, fed by six cold springs. It was Eagle Lake. The teenagers from Evansville would make pilgrimages to swim in its refreshing waters. As children, we heard many tales of this mythic place, and one summer while renting a cabin an hour away, we drove there to see the real thing. It was just as Mother remembered, and we marveled at the water's Caribbean-blue clarity.

Later, as she drove around the lake, Mother spotted a small cabin for sale. On impulse, she called the Realtor and made an offer, which was immediately accepted. It was a courageous act for a single mom with three daughters living on a teacher's salary — but it was her pride and joy for 44 years and a priceless gift to three generations of her family.

Vi Anne Christensen Traynor, Eagan