We stopped to look at a log cabin on a lovely lake with a sandy shore near Aitkin, Minn. It was an extremely hot day in July 1969, but inside, the place it was cool and dark, with heavy curtains over the small windows.

The cabin was built with logs from the area in 1934. It was 22 feet by 24 feet, and only 11 feet from the lake. We walked away that day and said we'd think about it.

In late November, the owner called us, said he had no offers, and asked if we'd come for another look. He said he had to move closer to medical help and really needed to sell it. We went back — it looked more appealing without the curtains and all their furniture. We took over their mortgage and set about cleaning out many years of accumulated flooring, dust and dirt.

Finally, we moved in. It was July 4th.

Our four children were ages 13, 11, 7 and 5.

There was an oil stove for heat, running water to the sink, no phone, and an outhouse. We were happy with it as it was for the first few years. But our children were getting bigger, and it was time for change. We moved the cabin back 22 feet and put a foundation under it. Then came a modest 12-by-22 addition. The indoor toilet and septic system followed. An old Jeep provided transportation during the week in summer when my husband would come back to the metro area.

Now, there was lots of room for friends. Our son brought his ski team, I brought our Camp Fire Girls, the choir came to sing at a local church. These were days of sleeping bags upstairs. We tore down the old pole barn and built a real garage. We battled bats and red squirrels that got into the cabin, and the oil stove failed (we added a propane fireplace and thermostat). After my husband died, the kids masterminded a major remodel and changed the upstairs to a loft.

Now the grandchildren bring their friends for campfires, kayaking, paddleboarding, sailing, swimming and biking. We now sit on the dock to read and watch the birds as they fly along the shoreline. It is a place of retreat and, sometimes, one of a lot of work. Still, there is always much joy. Judy Hoover, Golden Valley