It was 1967 when Mom and Dad bought the yellow cabin. My sister Barb and I were sassy teenagers but excited about this venture. The cabin was part of a small “Ma-and-Pa” resort on pristine Ten Mile Lakein Hackensack. It is thought to be the second-deepest lake in Minnesota. That means cold. What squeals of joy were had in taking the double-dare to jump in.
The folks were simple in their needs, and therefore comfortable with the simplicity of this property, in all its glory: The tall red and white pines; a gorgeous, clear lake; the soft pine needle carpeting; an unpredictable Mother Nature. Mom and Dad respected the environment and treated it with care. Conserve, respect, replenish.
We knew that the little yellow cabin was secondary to its surroundings, serving only as a placeholder for its current stewards. Mom and Dad taught us well, and that ethic continues to this day.
Dad was emphatic about maintaining the cabin’s infrastructure. Mom tended to the aesthetics within, also known as “cabin hokey.” Red-and-white checkered everything, homemade woodcarvings, folksy wall hangings, grandkids’ drawings, taped photographs, and the inexplicable old magazine photo of an eagle in flight, framed in barn sash. There were lists upon lists posted on how to flush the toilet for a fragile septic system, on when to turn on the hot water heater, on how to drain the oil from the motorboat, on shutting down the cabin. It was practically the same list, for it was intolerable to waste energy when not in use.
Change came infrequently, but when it did, it was remarkable. The interior of the cabin’s bare garage motif was eventually completed in knotty pine paneling. Pulling up the red linoleum revealed beautiful fir plank flooring, much to Mom’s surprise. Years later — I mean, years — Barb and I were able to wear the folks down into letting us have a small television (two channels, and then only if the sun, moon and planets were in alignment). And not too long ago, the yellow cabin was painted brown.
Mom and Dad are gone now but not their presence. If you look closely you just might see the spirit of Dad, a musician, playing his violin at the end of the dock before the parade of boats decorated for July 4th. To this day, too, the bathroom sink still drains its familiar sounding gurgle. The screen door spring has the same rusty screech when stretched, and the propane heater thankfully fires up with its soothing “Va-room.”
We still call it The Yellow Cabin. Some things just shouldn’t change.
Juliann M. Brunzell, Minneapolis