"We are losing daylight!" cried Hans Paul, our family's pied piper, as he burst through the screen door leading from the porch into the kitchen. "The lake is like glass. Let's go!" Not much gets our family to move from the supper table, but the promise of perfect water skiing conditions on a clear July evening does. As we loaded up the speed boat and pontoon with skis, ropes, tubes, kids and snacks, I noticed the glint in Hans Paul's eye as he surveyed the lake shimmering in the late evening's glow. It showed just how deeply he had inherited our Norwegian ancestors' love of the water.
Our Bergh family has vacationed Up North for nearly 30 years. We initially stayed at resorts from Mahnomen, Minn., to Annandale to Walker, enjoying our vacations and family time on the associated lakes but occasionally feeling that we were missing something. We found that "something" in 1996 when Uncle Hans Paul and his wife, Sharon, built an A-frame house on a perfect location at the end of a gravel road on the shores of Platte Lake, just west of Onamia. It was a cabin to call our own.
Now you won't find a Bergh family member who doesn't plan their summer around the cabin, especially over July 4th. And there are a lot of family members. Grandma Bergh is 90 now and her family includes her six children (Hans Paul is fifth in the lineup) and their spouses, 11 grandchildren and their spouses, and 13 great-grandchildren. While Hans Paul is the ring leader and ambassador of fun, Sharon is the ultimate hostess, who handles the chaos of 30-plus people tearing through her cabin with cheerfulness and grace.
As our family has grown, we have had to get creative with sleeping arrangements. One learns that to secure a prime sleeping spot, you either have to get there early to stake your claim in the bunk room or have a new baby in tow to warrant a private bed room (a loophole that my expecting wife and I are going to take advantage of again next summer).
Everything seems better up at the cabin. The burgers are tastier. The board games and card games are livelier. The sun shines a little brighter. Our official cabin motto is "Come for the food. Stay for the fun." Neither is in short supply. With Norwegian names like Nels, Lars, Thor, Elisabeth and Bjorn (to name just a few), the youngest of the Bergh family look to walk in Hans Paul's footsteps and emulate his passion for hard work, family and the outdoors.
This summer, Berghs from all over the metro and southern Minnesota will load up, drive up Hwy.169 and arrive at the cabin to the sound of Hans Paul shouting out an encouraging "Keep your tips up!" to another young skier.
As we unload our things we will anticipate an abundance of family, food and love. The only thing that will be in short supply? Daylight.
Hans Peder Sviggum, Rochester