The first year we moved up here to Minnesota we met a family that was to become best friends of ours. A couple of years previously, this family had sold their home in a suburb of Minneapolis to build a cabin in the wilderness and live there for one year in near isolation while homeschooling their five-year old twins, a boy and a girl.
When we first met them, their year in the wilderness was over, money had run low and they had moved into town where the dad, D, was working to establish his law practice and the mom, B, was setting up a Montessori School.
Because they all missed their cabin where they had had such a wonderful adventure, they frequently spent weekends at the cabin whenever possible.
That first Thanksgiving after we had made their acquaintance, they invited us to come to their cabin for the holiday. We readily accepted the invitation and looked forward to seeing their land and cabin we had heard so much about.
It was located on an inland lake about 40 miles from town and had no road access. In the summer they canoed across, in the winter they used their cross country skis. Each spring and fall, when the ice was not safe to go across on foot but while there was still too much ice for a boat to get through, they had a long, long walk on a trail they had made around the perimeter of the lake.
It was in the mid-1970s that we made our first trek to their cabin. It was a time in Minnesota weather history when winter came early with lots of snow and very low temperatures. By mid-November that year, we had a substantial amount of snow on the ground and on that Thanksgiving Day, the temperature was well below zero.
Hubby and I had not yet learned how to cross country ski nor did we have any equipment for skiing that first year. So we planned on snowshoeing across the lake pulling our two-year old daughter on a sled.We had made prior arrangements with our friends to meet us at a certain time by the landing where we would leave our truck on Thanksgiving morning. They would meet us there and take us across the lake to their cabin as we had no idea how to find it.
The morning dawned bright and sunny, but cold. Very cold, with no hope of the temperature even reaching up to zero that day. But we didn't want to miss the occasion so off we went.
D and the kids were waiting for us when we arrived. They had skied over but it was so cold that they couldn't stand still for long. They had been chasing each other in circles to stay warm while waiting the short time before we arrived. Even though the twins were only seven years old then, they were both proficient skiers.
We unloaded all of our paraphernalia from our truck and packed it in one of the two sleds. We wrapped our two-year old in extra blankets and propped her up in the other sled. She looked like a big, soft, colorful mound with only two little eyes peeking out.
The wind was blowing across the lake with what seemed like gale force which only made the air feel colder. D was concerned with our daughter staying warm enough on the way across the lake because she wouldn't be moving or creating any body heat with exercise like the rest of us. He suggested he take off with her in the sled and ski as fast as he could hoping she would stay warm. The twins would go slower so we could follow them while plodding along on our snowshoes.
We lost sight of D quickly as he took off at racing speed for the other side of the lake and the cabin. And it wasn't too long before we couldn't see the twins ahead of us either. It was probably hard for them to ski slowly enough for us to keep up with them, and I'm sure they were cold, too. Well, no matter. We had their ski tracks to follow.
We went on following their tracks for what seemed like . . . days! Okay, so it was only about 45 minutes of snowshoeing as fast as we could. The wind was brutal and we were very glad D had had the idea to take our daughter ahead with him.
Finally, we reached the cabin and as soon as we entered the door, the twins pounced on us talking excitedly at the same time. It was clear they had a story to tell and each one wanted to get it out first.
It seems that when they were about three-quarters of the way across the lake they saw something unusual in the snow ahead of them. When they got close enough they saw it was our daughter still completely wrapped tightly in quilts lying on her side to the left of the ski tracks. She had fallen out of the sled but D was so intent on going fast to get her into the warm cabin he hadn't realized he'd lost his cargo. L stayed with our daughter, who miraculously was laughing when she set her upright in the snow and brushed her off, while B took off after his dad yelling and screaming until D heard him and turned around, saw the empty sled and realized what had happened.
You can bet this incident has been fondly remembered by both families over the years, and it sure makes for a great Thanksgiving story.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU ALL! No matter how you choose to spend the day, I hope you enjoy it to the utmost.
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