“Why would anyone ever build on a lot like this?”

The words wouldn’t leave my mind. It was the voice of an environmental service specialist for Cass County talking to a co-worker while he was assessing our request for a building variance.

Our lot was 100-feet wide on a steep slope with a bulldozed trough down the middle. Pity may have been a factor in the decision, but our variance was approved.

The lot was all we could afford back in 1975. An $8,000 contract for deed, with 10 percent down. The lot was idle until the contract was paid, and we could save enough money for construction costs. We hired out the framing, plumbing and electrical work, and we took it from there.

We spent lots of bonding time with family and friends as we put up Sheetrock, painted, ran the cement mixer, laid the landscaping blocks and finished the inside. Our son and his friends spent a college summer working for minimum wage and siding the house. When they weren’t siding, they were skiing or wakeboarding.

We didn’t put the finishing touches on the house until 2004. It was a labor of love, and all who participated were enriched. We had dreamed of having a cabin where the family could gather and share time; with a little imagination and sweat equity, we made the ugly lot into a family retreat.

We have built traditions that are anticipated and enjoyed by our children and grandchildren. The annual homemade model sailboat race, the girls vs. guys scavenger hunt, water volleyball, softball, fishing and skiing.

We rent out a couple of fox dens in our hillside, feed the deer our hostas and watch the raccoons steal minnows from our minnow bucket. The elevation increases our step count and gives us a great view of the lake and its beautiful sunsets.

We love our cabin and all of the precious memories it has given us.

Gary and Linda Bahr, Brooklyn Park