She runs out of the driveway, waving at the RV as she comes near the street. She smiles at us, and I like her immediately. Not that I didn’t already like her—after all, we’ve been speaking to one another about writing, editing, and various other topics for nearly four years now, and she has always been kind. Her offer of a cabin by the lake, for as many days as we would like, is simply the cherry on top of what I already considered a good friendship.
Kate has short silver hair, kind green eyes, and gives great hugs. Within five minutes of meeting each other in “real life,” I feel like we’ve always visited in person, despite this being the first time we’re in the same physical space.
She apologizes profusely for things that don’t need apologies, especially for a family of five who have been living in a less than 400-square foot space for the last 8 months, and are none too tidy as a result.
The cabin is perfect. The driveway is quite long, and Daniel is able to drive in without issue. The log cabin, with the many trees and the lake behind it, deserves to be painted and hung up on a wall in a place of honour, where memories will hang about it in magic splendor.
Inside the cabin, evidence of a polymath is present everywhere: James Casper, or Grandpa Jim, as he prefers to be called by the children, has authored books which sit on shelves along with books about every topic under the sun by many different authors, throughout the cabin. There are guides to the stars, wildflower identification books, history books, cookbooks, wine knowledge books, various kinds of fiction; in short, the cabin is a book lover’s haven. On the walls hang paintings by Grandpa Jim, each with its own story.
A bunk bed room will make a wonderful place for the little ones to sleep, if they can handle not sleeping on the same bed this time around. A dining room and living room with a fireplace in the corner invite hours of conversation and relaxation, next to a sliding door and balcony looking out onto the lake.
Stairs lead down to the water, but for now, we want to stay and chat. The conversation flows easily, and it feels like we’ve known each other for decades, despite having just met Jim, and despite seeing Kate in person for the first time this evening.
Dan makes himself comfortable in the cozy kitchen, where he starts preparing dinner. Kate and Jim say their goodbyes, seeming to want to give us privacy in their own home. We feel blessed to have access to this beautiful space, but are sad to see them leave. We want to share a meal with them soon and spend more time together, so we will call one another tomorrow and decide how and when that will happen.
Two bedrooms and a bathroom are behind the kitchen. K-girl will sleep in one of the bedrooms (but likely joined by the little ones later), and Dan and I in another. But before turning in, I have a heavenly shower, letting the gloriously high water pressure run down my sore back and neck.
Perhaps I wasted a bit of water today, but I hope the last eight months of hyper-conscious water conservation makes up for it. And after a wonderful hot shower, a full night of sleep on a real bed with a comfortable mattress does wonders to lower my back pain.
A Day of Rest & Relaxation in Pequot Lakes
Easter Saturday is a day to make no plans, and to soak in the calm of this place. There is no Internet at the cabin, and I’m out of data for the month. I’ve never been happier to take a forced break from work and social media. I hadn’t planned on working on Easter weekend, and the lack of access to the online world has guaranteed I’ll keep my promise to myself: relax and enjoy what has been so generously offered you.
The only work I do on Easter Saturday is starting to clean up and tidy the RV, which has become quite messy in the days leading up to our visit to Pequot Lakes. We also get some groceries. Afterwards, we spend a good deal of time at a playground.
The laughter of the children as their legs go flying on a roundabout fills my heart with joy, and watching them play together puts a smile on my face.
Behind the playground, a couple plays basketball on the outdoor court, and I think of Jamal Wallace teaching Claire Spence the secrets of the game, and how sometimes, there’s deeper meaning (and maybe even love) behind a friendly pick-up game.
When the kids start getting tired, we make our way back to our temporary home in Pequot Lakes. After the kids go to bed, Dan and I explore the cabin some more, and we find the book “Coraline,” which we both start reading.
We drink tea and soak in the calm and quiet of this place, reflecting on the kindness of strangers who are anything but strangers, after all. We set aside all our special Easter clothes, including the lovely outfits gifted by Nana and Papa to the children. Tomorrow, we’ll go to mass early, so we can spend the day relaxing, and so we can cook a proper Easter dinner for not only ourselves, but for some very special guests.
Easter Eggs and A proper Easter dinner
On Easter Sunday, I get up early and go for my walk as usual. After my walk, we start getting ourselves and the children ready for an early mass. The service is lovely, and we return to the cabin with our hearts even fuller of gratitude, if such a thing is possible.
When we arrive back at the cabin, Dan keeps the children outside for a few minutes while I set up the Easter egg hunt inside. We don’t use special baskets for collecting; we unashamedly use any bags that were handy in the RV. The kids don’t care. The fun of finding the eggs and the joy of eating them is all that matters.
How we adults fuss over things that don’t matter when we have the space to accumulate junk, and how wonderful it is to watch the smile on our children’s faces when they simply collect their treasures in less-than-photo-worthy, but perfectly functional containers when space is limited.
Once they have found their treats, we sit around the table, chatting about how lovely this space is, and making plans for cooking dinner and spending time with the children. Because before dinner is made, some quality time with the little ones is a must.
We play board games with he children in the afternoon; read books, and relax by the fire with cups of tea (and a can of beer for Dan). Ever since I had my first baby, I don’t recall ever feeling this relaxed (with the exception of my annual weekends off, but I’m alone then, and it’s not the same thing as relaxing while watching the children play).
In the afternoon, Dan and I start preparing our food. We had asked Jim & Kate if they had plans for Easter dinner, and when they said no, we invited them to join us for ours. I prepare the spaghetti squash stir-fry I so love making, a raw kale salad, and a coconut strawberry ice cream for dessert. Dan prepares a ham, roasted potatoes, and rice.
As Dan and I cook, the children entertain themselves with games, Lego, dolls, and books that K-girl reads to her younger siblings. These scenes always bring gladness to my soul. Despite the expected sibling rivalry, these three truly love one another, and I hope they’ll always remember that despite their wildly different personalities, they are each special in their own way, and they complement one another perfectly.
When Kate and Jim arrive, we are ready to sit down and enjoy a meal together, and the conversation flows easily yet again, with varied topics, from medicine to family history to geography and more, and the children are happy to be involved in our discussions.
The food is delicious; Dan’s potatoes are to die for, and I didn’t do too bad a job on the spaghetti squash stir-fry. The white wine I picked up a few days prior is excellent, and despite not knowing anything at all about wine, I do know when one tastes good, and this one surely did. The kiddos have their own “wine”—sparkling juice that they adore not simply for the sweet taste, but also because it seems to include them in the adult world a little more. After dinner, a photo is a must.
After the photo, we chat some more, and before Kate and Jim leave, the children get a chance to meet Henry, the hyper excited bulldog, who is more than happy to accept treats from the children. We say our goodbyes after this, and the kids get to bed after a long day of merrymaking on my favourite holiday of the year. This year, I have even more reasons to think of it as my favourite.
Bubbles, games, and getting ready to say goodbye
We spend plenty of time outside on Easter Monday, but I also take a good few hours to deep clean and organize the RV. Daniel and the children spend some time raking the yard; Daniel enjoys the work, and it’s a little thing he can do as a thank you for the generosity of our hosts. The children also take their bubbles outside.
Later in the day, we all relax in the cabin, reading, playing games, and enjoying our last few hours at this lovely home. Tomorrow, we’ll have one last meal with our new friends, who seem to have been our friends for decades.
Our Easter dinner was such a joyous gathering; we have to have more time together with Kate and Jim before we leave the cabin. We invite them over for a waffle breakfast on Tuesdasy, and we enjoy more chatting over good food. The children are thrilled to see Kate and Grandpa Jim again, and are thrilled when they’re allowed to give Henry some more doggie treats.
After Kate & Jim leave, we get to work packing, finishing up laundry, and tidying up the cabin before heading to our next destination. But before I close the pages on this small but beautiful chapter of our adventure, I head to the balcony to say a short prayer of thanksgiving while I look out on the lake. As I do so, a gentle breeze lifts my hair and caresses my cheek ever so slightly. The feeling of that breeze, on this balcony, on this beautiful and cozy cabin, is something I’ll hang on to as a precious memory for many years to come.
And Kate & Jim, if you’re reading this, please know that the many thank yous we said and wrote definitely have many things behind them. We have deep gratitude for your hospitality and generosity, and we cherish your friendship. Let’s meet again soon.