Sometimes I tell outsiders that all Minnesotans are issued a lake cabin at birth. Not true, but we do come rather close: I once read that 25% of the population has access to a private cabin, either through direct ownership, generous relatives or good friends.
My family has been in that lucky percentage for more than 70 years, thanks to a log cabin my father designed and my grandfather built in 1938 on Round Lake in the Gull Lake chain. (It isn't really round, but Dented Oval Lake would sound silly.) I spent my first summer there when I was 6 months old.
It's also not true that Minnesota has 10,000 lakes, despite what our license plates say.
Officially, there are nearly 12,000 named lakes larger than 10 acres. Add unnamed lakes, and there are more than 15,000. Add the riverbanks, the state's Department of Natural Resources says, and Minnesota has more shoreline than California, Florida and Hawaii combined.
Virtually all these bodies of water are edged with summer cabins, whether seasonal shanties or year-round palaces. Pick any one of them, or a dozen, or a hundred, and it's a safe bet that all the owners will say they have the most beautiful view in the world.
That's because they all have pretty much the same view, and it really is beautiful: blue water, a dock, a couple of lawn chairs or an old swing by the shore, a fringe of pine trees.
They have the same sound effects too: little kids laughing on the beach; the distant hum of outboard motors; the eerie, heart-lifting trills of loons calling to each other across the water. And they all make the same memories.
The third generation owns our cabin now, and this summer, some of generation four were zooming around on a speedboat, while little ones from generation five splashed in the shallows and listened for loons, just the way their elders did.
The actors keep changing, but the essence of every cabin abides. It's still anchored in that beautiful blue-water view. Doesn't matter which lake.
— Catherine Watson