Tales from the Cabin
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My Cabin: A Cottage that Love Built

For a quiet retreat, I thank my father-in-law

Story & photos by Judy Larson
Cabin location: Little Lake, Mich.
Published: February 1, 2012
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MEANT TO BE – Sixty-nine years ago, Judy Larson’s father-in-law chose this site on Little Lake, Mich., for this quaint cottage.
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On the shore of an Upper Michigan lake sits a small cottage, still in the family since it was built in 1943. Before they even had a house, my father-in-law wrote to his bride:

“My Dear,
    I’m home this morning for a day off, but am leaving in a few minutes for the lake to start clearing a place for the cabin.
    Frank didn’t think I’d want to buy it when he told me the offers he’s had for his lots: $350. My heart sank to my shoes. But I made up my mind that we were going to have the place and so offered him $250 and the boat motor, which he took.
    Don’t think that is too bad, do you? Anyway, we are planning to build next week and will go until the money runs out. If we can’t afford to finish it, we can at least get a start.”

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EMBRACING ITS HISTORY – The coziness of this cottage is enhanced by original touches from the 1940s, including a dining table that was fashioned from an old door and birch logs. Canoes, paddles and loon-themed décor celebrate the cottage’s lake setting.
And so the building began. My husband’s grandfather was a carpenter by trade, and, with his expertise, he and my father-in-law harvested trees off the land for the rafters and purchased an abandoned schoolhouse for $400.00, from which they salvaged wood, glass and even nails to create the 20x24-foot structure. The loft and the 7x16-foot enclosed porch offer additional “get away” space.
    The dining table, meant to be temporary while the construction was going on, was fashioned out of an old door and birch log legs. It is still in use today … with every layer of oilcloth tablecloth still on it!
    Sixty-nine years later, with new windows, insulation, siding and a woodstove, our quaint cottage is enjoyed every possible minute we can be there. The fifth generation of our family is experiencing all that the cottage, woods and lake have to offer: smelling wood smoke, sitting in front of crackling cedar fires, hand-pumping water, visiting the outhouse, chopping and hauling wood, listening to a train whistle in the distance, canoeing along the shore and seeing all the wildlife on and near the lake.
    From the children, we hear the slamming of the cabin’s screen door, the running up and down the loft ladder, and the laughter at the lakeshore, which are all music to our ears. At the end of the day, we experience the feeling of peace that all is right with the world … at least here.
    Each time I approach the cottage or watch a sunset, I am filled with gratitude that my father-in-law chose this particular, perfect spot to build our quiet cottage.
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