In 1976 my parents bought a very small cabin in northern Georgia in the Appalachian Mountains. The cabin was on a lake that felt much like the upstate New York lake areas they had frequented in their youth and when living in New England.

And so began our family cabin adventures. I was a freshman at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and the cabin quickly became my retreat and gathering space with college friends. The cabin was slowly but steadily expanded. Very slowly. The great room (12-by-18 feet) was added in 1977 to handle our family of six. Until 1995, only modest changes were made. For example, the shower was upgraded from a tin square pan to tiled and pebbled flooring. But in 1995 the changes were big. The water supply shifted from the mountain springs to a well. A two-story addition added a bedroom, two bathrooms, and replaced the tiny galley kitchen perched over the living space. With the family now expanding quickly, there were 11-plus people gathering each summer. By 2005, that number would be 21!

The mountain-fed lake is crisp and cool year-round. Springs flow under the cabin, making sure there are ALWAYS repair projects. The wildlife is abundant: hummingbirds, bears, raccoons, turtles, herons, spiders, geese, and on it goes.

Each morning our cove sits smooth as glass and peaceful for morning coffee on the deck. In the late afternoon, our tradition is to gather in the lake (aka beer float time). Whether swimming, floating, or playing dock games, everyone joins in. We talk about life, adventures, the day, dinner plans and whatever else comes up.

Lake Burton and the higgledy-piggledy structure was a constant in our lives when we lived overseas for a number of years. The shipping container would leave with our belongings for a trip across the ocean, and we would retreat to the cabin — a familiar place before we stepped into another culture and climate.

When my parents considered selling the cabin because of maintenance and expense, we worked with my siblings and, in the end, bought it. Now we’ve continued the cabin traditions by adding the West Wing to house our growing (in size!) nieces and nephews. Two triple bunks are just right for the five female cousins. And a sleeping porch is a great hangout spot for the older nephews. Yet still a cabin with only wood stoves for heat and no air conditioning! Last but not least, our friends from around the world have come to stay with us and experience the beauty and peace of our favorite place. And we’re delighted that they return often.

Lisa Gareis-Korslund, Edina