Summer Kickoff!
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Summer Kickoff!

Ah, Memorial Day weekend, the long-awaited escape that announces that summer has finally arrived in cabin country (nevermind that summer solstice is a few weeks away). To celebrate, we decided to share a few favorite summer traditions from some friends and fans of Cabin Life.

Plunging into the season
“Memorial Day weekends at my in-laws’ cabin in northern Minnesota, I dive off the dock into the chilly lake no matter how cold the air or water temperature. Many years, this means swimming back to the dock at near-Olympic speed, and then racing up to the cabin where the pre-heated sauna awaits. But it’s worth it, every year.”
– Ernest Lorensson

Dock races
“We have a friendly competition with our neighbors to see who will get their piers out the earliest. It causes a lot of good ribbing back and forth. Last year I knew we had some conflicts with getting the family together to put everything in the water, so I made a point of putting about a third of our pier out myself just after the ice went out so I could say I had the first pier in the water.
    The next weekend, my neighbor’s clan put their pier and lift out. So the dispute is that I feel I was the first pier in the water; they feel they won because they were the first complete pier and lift in.
It sounds pretty stupid, but we get a lot of laughs about it. I think last year we discussed the finer points of the competition for this year over some refreshments so we wouldn’t have a dispute this coming year. The only problem is, I can’t remember what we decided!”
– Scott Stollberg
Cruisin’ with the top down
“Memorial Day weekend is the first long weekend I go to the cabin, and the weather is usually pretty good. I bought a convertible in 2008, and it launched a new cabin-related ritual for me.
    The drive to the cabin is about 240 miles. When I’m about 20 miles away from the cabin, I pull over (always in the parking lot of an old favorite supper club that’s been there for years, overlooking a lake, of course) and put the top down. The final miles to the cabin are twisty roads through the northwoods – I love the breeze, the fragrance of the pine trees, and the warmth of the early summer sun! Then I know it’s really summer! (I continue this ritual throughout the season, until my final trip in autumn.)”
– Ann Smith

Getting together with a large group of your favorite people is no doubt one of the best things about visiting the cabin. But with so many potentially rumbling tummies, it’s a good idea to have a plan for how to fill them … several times a day. Here are some tips from veteran cabin-goers.

“When we have friends up, we ask them to be responsible for one dinner. We take care of all other meals, including staples like pancakes, eggs, beer, wine, etc. If guests have something specific they like to drink or eat, we tell them to bring that. For holiday events and our summer Polish Luau, we have everyone bring something to contribute, like an appetizer, dessert or other dish to pass.”
– Mo Schimmel

“Every year, we celebrate Bongfest, the annual gathering of Bongs from all over the country at the cabin my grandfather built in 1962. We all get together for dinner on Saturday night, alternating each year who brings the main course. The ladies coordinate this ahead of time and decide what it will be. Sometimes it’s beer-can turkey or spiral ham, and sometimes the guys grill things like brats, burgers or chicken breasts. The families that are not in charge of the main course bring the sides and desserts. Everyone kicks in and helps in some way.”
– Scott Bong

“At the cabin, we are very casual and tend to do more grilling than anything else, with no real official planning. One of the joys of being at the cabin is that we are not on any schedules, so meals fall within the same framework – no schedules, no rules! For example, I once received a very expensive bottle of wine for Christmas. I wanted to save it for a special occasion. But I decided to take it up to the cabin and enjoy it on the pier with grilled brats, watching a lovely sunset! It was the best setting for a great bottle of wine – comfortable cabin clothes and no need for a fancy gourmet meal!”
– Ann Smith
Photo by Ann Smith
Polish Luau
Photo by Anne Schimmel
Photo by Amy Bottoms

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