Note: A story about this cabin appeared Nov. 21, 2014, in the Outdoors Weekend section. This is an update.
Cabin life evolves, as it should. In our early 50s, we bought a Wisconsin cabin to temper urban living. It was a glorious move. Ten years later, we retired, sold our Minnesota home and bought a midcentury modern condo in Palm Springs. Now, to our surprise, our cabin near Hayward, Wis., is our full-time residence (for five-six months a year) when we escape the California summer heat.
Friends mistakenly refer to it now as our lake home, since we show up, unpack and stay for six months. But here is the important point: While aging and life factors may have impacted the living arrangements, it still is the cabin. Always will be.
We still love the simple interior. High ceilings supported by sturdy beams, the Swedish black stove for heat. Sunlight filters through the green of oak and maple leaves like one big treehouse. Open staircases are made of branches, posts and wood slabs for the steps. It creaks more, like we do. Oak plank flooring stretches between the walls and ceiling of rough pine. There’s not a stitch of plasterboard in the whole place. Warm. Hyggelig.
The Adirondack-style, red-oak-planked exterior walls are mellowing and bronzing and getting a richer patina. Now with bear and critter scratches, the pine log pillars supporting the decks and porches still stand strong. We still shower outdoors from May to October. When that chill fills the air, nothing beats a good bake in the Finnish-style sauna. We co-habitate with our kamikaze hummingbirds and dragon flies. Eagles soaring and pirouetting for a fish and the wail of the loon at night can still catch our breath.
This cabin changed our life 10 years ago, and it continues to shape this life journey we are on today. Its solitude continues to provide peace of mind while we navigate retirement and solidify new daily rhythms. And we still ask: How will we and the cabin age together? Will she be kind to us? And how will she finally beat us down?
I still laugh. Like so many cabin owners, our musings about cabin life still sound so cliché. But the power of a cliché is that it’s true, amazingly true, reminding us of the healing power of nature and wilderness. And tucked away in it all is our cabin.
CURT PETERSON, Palm Springs, Calif., and Hayward, Wis.