A couple weeks ago a reader wanted to know more about The Cabin we share with my husband's extended family. While I was on vacation last week my younger son turned 11 and developed pneumonia. So my time off was a little different than usual. Usually I immerse myself in water or a craft project or collect new bug bites and rashes. This time I spent a lot of time hovering and doting (you know forcing liquids, checking temperatures, adjusting pillows, etc.) while he laid on the couch. This is no bad thing when the temperature is in the 70's and a cool breeze is blowing off the lake and you have no laundry facilities and therefore no laundry to think about. And it gave me some time to do some documentary photography.
If the American Dream is to own your own house, I think the Minnesota Dream is to have a cabin on one of the 30,000 lakes. In fact, I know a least 3 families that have sold their houses so they can buy a cabin. My husband's grandparents bought a lake lot in the 1930's and built a three-room cabin in 1940. The floorplan hasn't changed much since: across the front is a kitchen with a big dining table and a living room; in the back are 2 bedrooms; a new (1950s) bathroom is squeezed in the back hall; and there's a sleeping loft accessed by ladder-steep steps over the bedrooms and open to the living room. That's it.
When school got out each year, Michael's grandma would pack up a huge car with the three kids and move to the lake for the summer while Grandpa would drive back down to the city (Minneapolis) to work during the week.
When the kids grew up and had families, they would all come up and squeeze in. So even though my husband's family moved a lot and spent several years overseas, the cabin was always home base.
My husband says that when he was at "Grandma's Cabin" he was awed by her. She would get up early in the morning and go fishing--always catching more fish than anyone else. She would gut the fish in no time flat, then cook huge meals that ended with chocolate cake or legendary banana creme pie. During Happy Hour she would win most every card game or shake quintuple sixes in Yahtzee. If needed, she could pilot a speedboat and chop wood with a double-headed axe.
In her "down time" she would watch (and long-distance coach) the Minnesota Twins baseball team while doing needlework. She wielded her crochet hook, sewing and knitting needles with as much skill as the fishing pole and filled the cabin with afghans, slippers, pot holders, and scarves. Every single dishtowel, pillowcase, and dresser scarf bloomed with stitched flowers and singing birds. Anything that could be improved with crochet was:
And the measuring stick hung in a special holder made from pillow ticking prettied up with sequins:
So even though Michael's grandparents died more than 20 years ago, the cabin is still "Grandma's Cabin." As he says, "The knotty pine walls are hung with framed paint-by-numbers made by Grandma and the couch is covered with her afghans. Some of her embroidered pillowcases survive in the linen closet, partly melted acrylic potholders hang beside the range, and the closets still glow with her rainbow-colored, crochet-covered hangers. And even now I stand in awe."
She, meanwhile would be outraged by the spider webs (seen near the door hinge) I allowed to develop. They should have been swept down every morning, along with the eaves and steps. I'm trying, but I'm not sure I will ever stand in her purple, crochet slippers.