America. A special place. Always.

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Each time I drive to cabin, affectionately called “The Northern Lights Lodge” – with its accompanying bunkhouse that has been dubbed “Cranberry Cottage” – I am filled with gratitude that my family has this place that is our sanctuary.

I’ve often had to stop myself from describing it as a place that is neither “fancy or special” because that is only half accurate.

It’s not fancy.  It’s a one-bedroom log cabin that was built years ago by a guy who kept most of its features pretty sparse.  The family we purchased it from nearly 10 years ago upped its features with carpet, hardwood pine walls and a bathroom (um, that has no ceiling, I might add) so it no longer resembled a hunting cabin. 

The upper bunkhouse – called “Scorpion Headquarters” by my then six-year-old son, Owen – is a classic kids get-away.  Shag carpeting, bunkbeds, a t.v. and a small dorm fridge with a balcony off the front makes the Scorpion Headquarters a favorite hiding place for young boys and girls who are on their own personal adventure.

Except, of course, when they radio over for popcorn, soda, pizza or snacks of any persuasion.

It’s on about 3 acres of land – with about 1/3 of it under water – and sits feet away from a 25 acres spring fed lake.  We are fortunate that the only full-time inhabitants (other than the creatures) are our wonderful neighbors who keep an eye on things while we are away – and are always happy (except when we bring the rain!) to see us.

It’s not fancy.

But, it is special.

It’s the place where my son stood on the dock with his fishing pole bent over while I assured his Mom that it was a snag.

Only to find out that he had caught a three pound northern!

The place where he grabbed a snake by the tail and lifted it up triumphantly for his terrified mother to view and his squeamish father lightly giggled as he captured a photo of the vent.

The special place we call The Lodge is where my daughter and her friends have spent hours in the hot tub – and she has spent longer hours out on our little boat…on our little lake…catching little fish…in front of our little lodge.

I cannot imagine more precious – special – moments in my life that I have had than those with my Daughter as she and I sat in our little boat for hours – and making small talk about everything and anything and nothing.

The first night we spent in The Lodge my wife and I sat on the floor of the unfurnished cabin and marveled at what an amazing place we were fortunate to have had come into our life. 

Since then we’ve had the honor and privilege of friends and family join us for holidays – for runs – ski races – and no reasons at all – and created hours and days of memories forever.

Anybody who knows me also knows that The Lodge is where I flee to regain my sense of balance, scope and perspective in life.

There’s always something new I learn about The Lodge – and its land – and the nature and wilderness around it.

And, nearly every time, I learn something new about me – and most assuredly remember things about me I have either forgotten or ignored.

As well as things I have always known about myself.

I’m afraid of bats – and most critters, to be honest.  Yes, it is true, there are more of all of them to count at The Lodge.  I would be lying if I told you that I am braver here than I am somewhere else where they are.  Generally, I try to ignore the fact they are here – and sometimes simply convince myself that they are really fast birds flying at night.

I don’t like the dark.  Never have.  Never will.  When I used to travel extensively I would leave all the lights on in the hotel room – t.v. on – in order to fall asleep.

And, while I don’t much like the dark at The Lodge, either, I find that a nightlight with a movie making noise in the background can usually get me to sleep through the night.

Most importantly about all of my trips to The Lodge is my understanding each time I drive into the yard – and drive away back home – is that my liberty and my freedom is reflected in everything about my cabin.

Without either there is no Lodge.  Without my liberty and freedom there is no little lodge – little boat – little lake – or little fish.  Or those moments with my family that I wish I could bottle and stow away for all time.

That’s the beauty of this great nation I am proud to call home – warts and all – imperfections and perfections – failures and successes.

My not fancy cabin is special.  It’s special because without my freedom and liberty there is no Owen and me falling asleep – he in my lap – in the middle of a soft, gentle snow while we looked up at the starts.

Without my freedom and liberty there is no Maisie steering our little boat with a trolling motor to that place where we know we’re going to catch a big Bass.

No freedom and liberty means my wife and I don’t get those hours in the hot tub marveling at the stars – appreciating the solitude – having the gratitude that where we are at in the world is some place we want to be.

For the nearly 10 years we have owned this cabin I never leave it without saying “See you, Cabin.”

Unspoken, but understood every single time I come – and every time I go – is that “See you, Cabin” also means “Thank you, America.”

Thank you, America – land of the free – home of the brave – and where I am honored, privileged and grateful to celebrate my independence this 4th of July.

 

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