Take Time to Watch the Sunset (30 Days of Gratitude: Day 3)

We so often get wrapped up in our over-scheduled lives, with the constant barrage of technological communications and screen distractions, that we forget to breathe and just be.

Minnesota Sunset

While driving north after a commitment for work in the Twin Cities, the sky was increasingly filled with the most glorious glow of pink and orange. I was cruising along the interstate, and kept catching glimpses of it off to my side and behind me. I found the nearest exit and did just that … exited. Just a mile or two from the highway there happened to be a large pond with a parking area. It was just waiting for me. I stood as the sunset took its last breaths, and a beaver quietly paddled across the water, leaving the ripples of purple and pink in its wake. Little creatures rustled the cattails and the water grew still again as darkness took over.

Grateful for those few minutes to remind myself there is time to watch the sunset.

~ Kat

Monday Musings: Simple Pleasures

“After all,” Anne had said to Marilla once, “I believe the nicest and sweetest days are not those on which anything very splendid or wonderful or exciting happens but just those that bring simple little pleasures, following one another softly, like pearls slipping off a string.”

~ L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

Sunset on Lake Superior, Duluth

Ciao! ~ Kat

P.S. So excited to receive an early Christmas gift from my parents and share one of the first photos with you!  Yes, my very own DSLR – a Canon EOS Rebel T3i!  Eager to learn the DSLR ropes in the months (and years) to come, and move the blog to the next level!

The Allure of Minnesota’s Cabin Culture

What is it about going to “the cabin”?  So many residents of Minnesota already live in rustic, nature-filled settings, yet are eager to pack up the car and head out to “the cabin.”  If it is not their own cabin, or their family’s cabin, then it is their friend’s or neighbor’s cabin.  In Minnesota, it seems that everyone knows someone who has a cabin.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources publishes facts and figures on Minnesota’s many waters.  Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes” which is somewhat of a misnomer, for the state actually has 11,842 lakes which are 10 or more acres in size.  Of Minnesota’s 87 counties, only four of them do not have a natural lake within their borders.  Minnesotans have to try hard NOT to go to the lake or to the cabin.

Perfect view with book in hand

My husband grew up in Minnesota and that cabin culture is part of who he is.  While I could be content puttering around my gardens “in town” to unwind, or just renting a cabin on a lake for a weekend once a summer to get my fix, it became increasingly important to my husband that we find a little spot of land on a lake that he could call his own.  And isn’t marriage all about compromise?

Casting off the dock 

For several summers we simply pitched a tent on our little lake parcel, enjoying our private campsite, fishing from shore or taking out the canoe.  The boys were just starting school and we still had most of our weekends free from scheduled activities.  We eventually had a simple cabin shell constructed, doing finishing work in stages and completing the work ourselves when our skills allowed.  As our boys grew older, schedules became busier, and time for all of us to get to the cabin on a regular basis is harder to come by, and so that time is all the more treasured when we have it.  

Loon pair in northern Minnesota

The simple pleasures are what makes the cabin a special place — watching the loons float by and listening to their haunting calls, sitting among the birch and pine with a book in hand.  When the boys were younger, they would craft imaginary strategic games and play them for hours in the woods.   

Boys in the woods

Even in recent years, the cabin is still a place where teenaged boys can find the time and space for some creative play — garbage can lids turn into shields against stick swords and the battle ensues!  Boys will be boys at any age.

Never too old for imaginary play

Summer months bring lazy days, launching into the water to cool off and enjoy the seemingly endless depths of the lake.

Summer lake time

Cabin time is almost synonymous with fishing time — sometimes from the dock, sometimes from a boat on the lake itself.  When the fishermen in my family land a big one, I hear the frantic call from the dock — “GET THE CAMERA!”  I rush down to the dock, camera in hand, quickly snapping a shot or two before the big guy is released to enjoy another day.

Northern Pike: The one that didn't get away

Cabin time is time to just hang out, use your shirt as your hand towel, and let the layer of dirt act as additional sunscreen.  The boys have great immune systems and no allergies to speak of, which I chalk up to a healthy dose of dog fur, dirt and grime over the years!

Sizing the day's catch on the dock

The cabin is the ideal spot to hang with man’s best friend.  Running down the tree-canopied roads . . .

A shady run with the dogs

. . . watching the fish swim by the dock . . .

Best friends on the dock

. . . or tolerating an extra player during a marathon game of Monopoly.  Cabin memories, all of them.

Monopoly:  the black lab version

As days draw to a close, the colors play across the lake’s surface, and a person cannot help but pause and reflect. An owl may call through the dark woods — like the Barred Owl with its unmistakable call:  “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?”  The wolves may howl in the distance, the deer may quietly meander down their well-worn path to the lakeshore, and the frogs join in chorus to sing their evening songs.

Contentment on the dock

Perhaps it is that evening sauna that relaxes a person as it purges the body’s toxins, or just as likely it is the other aspects of the cabin that create the restful escape — no urge to run to the grocery store and stock up for the week, no temptation to go into the office and get caught up at work, no running here and there with concerts, sporting events, conferences, social activities, and all the other details of our daily lives that sometimes leave us feeling tired and worn, even as we enjoy them.  Sleep at the cabin is somehow more restful than anything experienced “at home.”

Sunset on the lake

Numerous articles recently have highlighted the importance of escaping our multi-tasking world:  spend some time in green space to ease brain fatigue  (per the New York Times), take a break from multitasking to return to the essence of our humanity (per this video from KarmaTube), untether from our smart phone leash (per this column from Sam Cook).  Only by doing so can we fully appreciate the simple beauty of the world, . . .

Peaceful paddle at sunrise

. . . and be fully present while spending time with each other.

Paddling along the lakeshore

What is it about Minnesota’s cabin culture?  Come and experience it for yourself and you will understand.

Hammock at the cabin

Ciao! ~ Kat