Our poor, dear, little house on the river is showing her age. As I drove into the yard last Saturday to the sight of grass a foot tall, my grandmother’s round flowerbed choked with weeds, and the end of the dock that I spent hours replacing the boards on last summer completely under water, I wanted to punch Mother Nature right in the face. Didn’t she get the memo about all the Other Important Things I’ve had to do in June, for crying out loud?
And then I got to work. Because really, isn’t that why Minnesotans have cabins? To work? Oh, sure… there are some Minnesotans who go to resorts and cabins of friends where they actually relax and maybe even (get ready for this) fish. On Fridays, they pack up the kids and games and hamburger buns, hook their boats onto the backs of their Suburbans and book it out of Suburbia for points north with not a care in the world. This is because they don’t own cabins. And then there are the folks with campers. The ones who haul all of their possessions in their little homes away from home like giant fiberglass turtles to campgrounds where, I’m pretty sure, THEY also actually relax and even, you guessed it, fish.
And then, there are the rest of us fools.
By the time I finished raking up all the grass, weeded the flowerbed, and planted a few purple petunias and a hosta, I was an itchy, sweaty, very thirsty hot mess. I was seriously wondering why in the world any sane and rational Little Red Hen who hates Minnesota winters as much as this one does would spend even one rare and perfect June day weed-whipping confused toads in their behinds when she could be doing anything else that didn’t involve deer flies and snakes and well, toads.
I went in to the cabin to grab something to drink and flopped down in my grandmother’s rocking chair in the living room for a few minutes to get away from the flies and the heat. A cool breeze was coming through the open window and I could hear the red winged blackbirds in the meadow she used to look forward to burning off each spring before they nested. As I sat there, contemplating life and cabin ownership and toads, I happened to look over at the wall filled with photos of family members that go back all the way to my great-great grandparents who had walked on the same lawn I’d been cursing all morning. Photos of great-grandparents, grandparents, my mother, aunt, and all their cousins in one frame, and photos of my siblings, cousins, and all of our kids in another. Generations of family on one wall in a house a couple nearing retirement in 1947 had built and hoped to live out their lives together in. Her legacy? A rose bush she planted that still bursts into bloom every June about the time the wild strawberries are ripe. And his? A house on the river.
I don’t know why the rest of you have a cabin.
But I know, without a doubt, why I do.