Lake Life

They call Minnesota Land of 10,000 lakes, and Ben and I are spending most of the summer at one of them – well, technically, we’re on a chain of 14 lakes called the Whitefish chain.

With so many lakes, many families in Minnesota have a lake cabin – some of them in the family for generations, like the one Ben and I are staying at – and some of these ‘cabins’ are luxury homes only used a few weeks a year.

‘Our cabin’, on a small lagoon on Rush Lake, is not a luxury home, but it’s luxurious to us, because this is our view from the deck:



Simply, it is beautiful here.

The cabin was built nearly a hundred years ago and was bought into Ben’s family in the 1950s. They’ve been coming here every Summer ever since and Ben spent a lot of his childhood here.

On the inside, it looks like this:


Yes, that’s a charming hodge podge of furniture, housewares and artifacts that span decades, including a fairly strong representation from the 80s (like the collection of VHS movies) – check out that carpet!

Lake life itself means being on the water. At least once a day, we head out on either the jetski (Ben’s) or the pontoon (the family’s). We may be going somewhere specific – all of the restaurants in the area and the nearest town, Crosslake, are accessible by water and have docks where we ‘park’ – or we may just cruise around exploring. The other day we rode the perimeter of Rush Lake and found some lagoons Ben has never seen before – even after coming up here for 30+ years. Oh, and that’s Ben going to the store on the jetski to pick up a few things.

Lake like is also about a slower pace and savouring the little moments, liking making S’Mores over the firepit:

And stopping for coffee at the local coffee shop:

And exploring Crosslake:

butterfly chair

And lounging on the water:


And exploring the surrounding forests:

And having fun with visiting friends:


And the wildlife! On the property are red and grey squirrels, chipmunks, and green frogs, who keep Ben up at night with their raspy ribbits. The lagoon is frequently visited by two families of geese – one with young cygnets and one with teenagers – a family of ducks, a stunning blue heron who flies arcs over us, and a woodpecker! There’s a muskrat that lives under the bridge who’s also busy collecting reeds, and we’ve seen painted turtles, bald eagles (one being chased by a starling), and a multitude of fish. And my favourite this summer has got to be the state bird, the beautiful loon. They are are a large water bird who have a distinctive call, and I just love them.

Perhaps most surprising has been the skies. Many mornings are a moody grey which melts away to a brilliant cerulean dotted with white puffs. We’ve had nighttime lightening storms which have gone on for hours, a surreal strobe-light effect that always looks fake in films, but is surprisingly real. But most of all, the sunsets take my breath away.

taken by me, edited by Ben


And these stunners by Ben:

Of course, we’re both still working – Ben for his client in Australia and the publication date of my second novel is only 5 days away (!) so I am madly editing – but we take time each day to enjoy where we are and the easy pace of lake life. So far, it’s been a brilliant summer.

Musings from Minnesota

“Summer time and the living is easy…”

Gershwin had it right. When the days are hot and the breezes are cool, when lakes are glassy and the loons call out at dusk, when you’re sipping beer and reading on the deck, life is easy.

A few days ago, Ben and I got back from a week at Crosslake, Minnesota. It is about a 3-hour drive from the twin cities, and is a heavenly part of the world.

Ben’s grandmother, Ellie, owns a cabin on Rush Lake, and we headed up there for some time away from the city bustle. Ben’s parents joined us half way through our stay and friends, Jake and Arielle, brought their baby Gus to visit.

Snippets from our stay:

Getting grubby

We both spend too much of our day to day lives indoors sitting at desks. That is why we gladly donned gloves and work clothes and got a little grubby doing yard work.


We raked and cleared, and I ushered a fist-sized frog down to the water when he (she?) emerged a little shell-shocked from a pile of leaves. I unearthed an old wheel barrow


and mended a small outdoor table. It feels really good to hit wood with a hammer!

When cleaning the speed boat I discovered at least 50 different kinds of spiders. In fact, there seem to be more spiders in the state of Minnesota than there are in the entire of Australia. One even thought that wiggling around inside my bra (while it was on) would be fun. Perhaps it was, but only for the spider.

Even Little Gus took time out of his visit to pitch in. Here he is getting vital instruction from Uncle Ben.


Seeing and being seen

My biggest question of the week was: “Are we in Minnesota or Miami?” The 4th of July long weekend on the lakes of Minnesota is the scene to see and be seen.


On one of our first jaunts out and about, I said to Ben, “I didn’t realize that I should be in a bikini and artfully arranged across the back of the boat.” He replied that he was all for supporting local cultural practices, so I adjusted my attire and seating arrangements on subsequent days, just to fit in…you know.

Getting into the Minnesota groove

Lazy days

So much of our time was just lazing about. Reading on the deck, walking to the shore and watching the sunset, playing with Remy, (Kevin and Ellen’s dog), getting ice-cream from the parlor in town, enjoying the fresh air, and having encounters with the wildlife (chipmunks, squirrels, frogs, crawfish, turtles, loons, geese and ‘lake’gulls).

Taken by Ben
Taken by Ben




Even our boys, Squirt and Tahoe, spent some time just watching the world go by. It was a truly relaxing time.


Water works

Of course, spending time up at the lakes means being on and in the water.

View of lagoon from dock



We swam, floated about on sun loungers, boated on the pontoon, sped about in the speed boat and even water skied on our last day up there. While the speed boat wasn’t powerful enough to slalom ski, I got up easily on two (despite the 16 years since I have done that) and took full advantage of the glassy water. There are few things that feel as exhilarating being ‘out on the whip’ as the boat turns.

4th of July Celebrations

And of course, our visit coincided with a festive time of the year. We attended the 4th of July parade, and watched as children lining the streets hauled more candy thrown from floats than they would ever get while trick or treating.


There were patriots young,


and old.


A highlight for us was seeing a family friend, Carl, driving his restored 1910s firetruck in the parade.


We were lucky enough to be taken for a ride on his firetruck a few days later.


As always, a warm thank you to my best friend and traveling companion, Ben, and to his lovely family who were wonderful to us.

‘Til the next time I wander…