Up north


I don’t fish or water ski. I abhor the smell of wood smoke. I’m bugged by bugs. So why did I so enjoy our “up north” vacation?

My family of five shared a tiny, slightly-musty cabin. The weather was cool and rainy – we barely saw the sun. It was too cold to swim. My son sprained his foot. And we spent most of the week in damp, grubby clothes. On our return, the laundry (literally) brought tears to my eyes.

But there was a wonder to watching our oldest son catch his first “real” fish – a 16″ bass – and sharing it for dinner. To seeing our teenage daughter befriend a tiny, self-assured young man, aged four. To watching our youngest win a sandcastle-building contest. To hearing our children, within hours of arriving, ask, “Can we come back next year?”

And even though this is not the trip my family took when I was a kid, there was something familiar about the call of the loons, the crisp, clear water, and the activities at the lodge. It reminded me of childhood, of a simpler time where the last fleeting days of August were all the more sweet because school was right around the corner.

The rest of our year is a frenzied blur of homework, carpools, business trips, and deadlines. Music lessons. Airport noise. Telephone calls.

“Up north” we traded rushed meals for long dinners at the lodge. Housework for damp clothes draped over the deck railing. Sports practice for pick-up volleyball games. 24-hour connectivity for evenings by the fire.

And non-stop activity for peace. The peace that comes with having all the time in the world and nothing, really, to do. Time to watch an eagle soar, or wait for a bite on the line. To play cards with friends all afternoon. To listen to the owls calling all night, and then sleep in.

Which is all I really wish for in a vacation. See you next year, little cabin.

11 thoughts on “Up north

  1. Beautiful, Sarah. Exchanging the big wonders for the little ones has a built-in healing to it. Your “Up North” trip reminds me of one our family did when I was about eleven.

    It also reminds me of why we gave up city life a few years ago. We still have to work, but I can do most of mine looking out of my office window into the woods. It stokes my fire every day.


  2. My husband’s family has a one room cabin with a loft in the mountains of VA 20 miles from civilization with a wood stove and it is my favorite place in the world. We just started taking the kids there now that they are a little bigger and I am hoping they love it too. Loved your post!


  3. No vacation is complete without bugs and lugging mountains of laundry going home! But seeing our kids enjoy the sense of freedom that only summer brings is all worth it. Glad to hear you had a lovely vacation!


  4. And, I get to enjoy this beauty every day living on the lake in northern Minnesota. Now, if I could just retire to TRULY enjoy it EVERY day rather than just on the rare weekends that we are home! It is so beautiful here and I am truly blessed to be able to be a “year rounder” at my peace on the lake…..


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