So there’s this thing in Minnesota, “Cabin Culture.” People are always going “up to the lake” or “out to the cabin” on the weekend. The cabins are family possessions, and the excursions to them are generally restricted to family, too. Since I’m from outstate and didn’t marry into a cabin family, I’d resigned myself to the fact that this wasn’t going to be a part of Minnesota life of which I could partake.
Until my amazing friend Mary sent out an invite for a long weekend in Embarrass. Family friends own a cabin that they open up to visitors in the wintertime, and seven of us headed up there last Friday.
It’s the coldest place in Minnesota – apparently the overnight temp fell to -42°F on our first night there, but we were indoors and thus did not perish.
It’s a beautiful property with a wood-fired Finnish sauna, which we took twice over the weekend. Deep conversations were had within, as apparently 160°F just melts out all of the words. If you know me at all, you won’t be surprised that I always want to give and receive all of the information. What may surprise you is what we did after the sauna.
You see that kind of scuffed-up pile of snow just outside the sauna door? Do you see that long ridge in the shadowy area? That there would be the imprint of MY BODY. From where I ROLLED in the SNOW. Maybe 160°F also melts brain cells.
Michael and Mary both said they were going to do it and I thought they were insane, but went outside with them just to witness the spectacle. I don’t remember deciding that I was going to do it, too; I just remember standing on the ice, and then pushing myself up out of the snowbank. I’d have thought such a thing would be torture, but the contrast of temperatures seemed to short-circuit my skin, and my brain just refused to process what had happened. It was like “this information we are receiving can’t be right, so we’ll just shut down the reporting process until we figure out what’s going on out there.” I felt amazing for a least an hour afterward. Looks like I finally found something for which my endorphins work properly.
We also went snowshoeing, which I’ve been wanting to try for awhile.
I decided before we started that as long as I only fell down three times, I’d consider myself a success. I was only felled two and a half times, therefore I won! It was a lot harder than I expected (apparently that snow was more powdery than is ideal for the activity), but not un-fun.
I turned back before everybody else; I made it a little past the spot from which this shot was taken. Across the field and to the tree line was my goal, and I met it. The walk back was profoundly quiet and still. I’m kind of glad I got to do that part alone.
Scott’s dog Winston (and Lori’s dog Milou) had a marvelous time as well, even without snowshoes.
The outdoor activities were fun, but the main focus of the weekend was maximum hanging out. Board games and knitting and conversation and movies and reading and enjoying being warm inside while looking out at the dazzling, deadly landscape.
Also there was eating. Lots and lots of delicious eating. Pizza and coffee cake and homemade lasagna and crazy eggs and brownies and Tres Leches cake and everyone was so nice to accommodate our stupid still-restricted diet.
(I may or may not have had the last of the coffee cake for breakfast this morning, Lori.)
Magnificent Mary and her Xmas present, the armwarmers I finally finished last week.
This was where Michael and I slept. The whole cabin was so thoughtfully fitted out; fully equipped kitchen, piles of towels and blankets. games, books, toys; just everything we could need while we were there. The reentry process has been a bit bumpy, let me tell you.
After two and a half days, it was time to pack up, however much we wanted to stay. We squeezed so much joy out of the visit, but reality beckons.
Memories to treasure, and new friends as well. I’m so ardently grateful for this experience.
The hospitality of the cabin’s owners as well as that of Mary’s aunt and uncle goes back decades, as we saw when we flipped through their guestbook. I hope that someday I’m able to do something this nice for other lonely strangers, somewhere in the world.
(1st, 4th, 5th & 6th photos provided by lovely Mary.)