The story is that my dad and Auntie Carolyn went for a boat ride on Clearwater Lake one day.
Dad came home and told Mom that he wanted to buy a cabin with Auntie Carolyn. My mom, concerned about what co-ownership would be like, agreed, but only if they bought it themselves. Financially, it was likely a stretch for them at the time. We’re so lucky that they took a chance.
Apparently it was owned by an older lady from the United States and a relation somehow to musician, Bob Seger. Random fact. Anyways, she had many offers but turned them down. When my parents contacted her, she asked if they had children. Yes, we have two. Then I’ll sell it to you. She wanted kids to enjoy it. I was eight years old at the time, my brother was seven.
The cabin was a mess. The grass had grown up past our knees. There were garter snakes everywhere, even in the cabin. All of the contents had been left inside and I remember barely being able to walk around in there. The kitchen building off the back was falling apart and you could see light through the log walls.
But my parents saw the potential.
It was a beautiful lot, filled with birch and pine trees. There was lots of shade and a great view of the lake.
We got to work right away and hauled everything out (I say we, but really most of it was my parents). The kitchen section was removed and the cracks in the walls were filled. Mom sewed curtains for the windows and made cushions for the window boxes. Dad built a little kitchen counter with a sink. We painted cabinets and waxed the old linoleum floor.
In the beginning, we used a generator for lights. I think our fridge and stove were propane. There was a shower hooked up in Dad’s shed and an outhouse up on the hill. We put mouse traps out all the time. I remember hearing the snapping of traps once the lights went out at bedtime.
There was very little room inside the cabin. It was basically one square main room and a little bedroom off of the side. My parents bed sat at the front of the cabin, completely surrounded by windows and not far from the kitchen table. A little TV hung in the corner above the window boxes.
It was old and perfect. Minus the bedroom. I hated sleeping in there. There were always mysterious wood shavings that would appear on the floor under one bed. I think bugs were burrowing into the logs. There were always mice and I wondered if snakes were in the tall linen closet at the foot of the bed. I slept in the top bunk and always imagined a mouse running along the log rafters above my head. I tried to sleep with my sleeping bag over my head but could only stand breathing inside it for so long.
And yet it was perfect.
I remember visits where Auntie Carolyn, Uncle Bill, Troy and Laurie would come up to visit. There was very little space for everyone to sleep and very little room to sit. It didn’t matter because we spent most of our time outside. I just remember lots of laughs and fun.
In thinking back about the old cabin, it makes me appreciate how my parents built what they have. They started with an old cabin and made it their own. Slowly improvements were made and money invested (at one point, they paid to have electricity put in). Eventually they built a brand new cabin that is gorgeous. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a loft, a jacuzzi tub, a huge stone fireplace, ceiling fans…things have changed a bit.
It takes time to build something you care about. I need to remember that.
Here are a few pictures from this summer…