The little house sits quietly, waiting for visitors now. It is the farmhouse in west-central Minnesota where my mom and nine siblings grew up. The house was built by the brothers who settled that area more than 130 years ago. It is also where my mom and dad brought us up to spend time with the grandparents, and where my dad taught my brothers to hunt out on the farmland.

As children, on July 4th, I remember crawling up on the roof of the chicken house and throwing firecrackers onto the ground to watch the chickens jump (sorry, Grandma). We’d also go to nearby Big Stone Lake to swim. A snapping turtle or a fish there bit my toe once. You have never seen someone swim to shore so fast! In the fall, a cousin who lived nearby always lit the oil furnace for us so the house would be warm when we pulled up on cool autumn nights. (I put in central air conditioning and heating this year. Grandma would be so pleased.)

Although it is not a lake house, you can run off the dock of your imagination into swirling prairie grasses. The coteaus, aka the blue hills of South Dakota, edge the prairie lake. You can float your boat and anchor in the scattered, abandoned farmsteads, moored by trees that mark where a family once lived. This small house anchors me to the world. Peace truly is where you find it.

Sheila O’Brien, Richfield