In 1979 my grandma, by snail mail, worked out a purchase agreement for lakeshore property on Bad Medicine Lake in northwestern Minnesota. Over the next couple years my grandpa, Harv, my dad and several uncles worked to clear the land. Then they built a modest, sturdy cabin.
That cabin was an idyllic escape and gathering place in the Northwoods for more than 37 years until it was sold out of the family a few years ago.
I’m biased, but Bad Medicine is the greatest lake in existence. Clear, emerald water, deep and cold and rocky and weedless, ringed by red pine and maple and popple, beautiful in every season, quiet and secluded. It’s perfect for the person who needs to get away from the trappings of the world, their smartphone, the news cycle. Perfect for the poet, the dreamer, the one whose soul needs rest. We hid out there for decades, swimming the crystalline water, canoeing the shallows, delighting in osprey sightings, loon calls, cribbage tournaments, family singalongs around the piano, and each other. There was always laughter in the cabin.
Last call at Bad Medicine came for our family in the last days of December 2016. We sledded, walked on the frozen lake, and marveled at the snow-covered trees. We walked the road down to “God’s Country,” where stately Norway pines reach toward the sky like cathedral spires. We thanked God for the blessing this place had been to us for nearly 40 years. We cried. Then we took a final look around before locking up and trudging out into the snowy night.
Seth Johnson, Fosston, Minn.