8 Postcards from my Happy Place

I’m still thinking of the lake. We were there a month ago. If I close my eyes, I smell the woods; leaves, moss, and fresh oxygen. I hear wind rushing through the trees.

Poplar and birch trees, their light colored trunks and leafless branches against the blue sky

I see my fingers dangling from a canoe into rust-colored waters; el lago donde reside mi alma; the lake where my soul resides.

Lake shoreline at sunset, birches in the foreground and pines near the water.

The first two decades, we camped upon the shores of el lago. We had an enormous 6-person canvas tent that all but my dad could stand up in. Wet weather was frequent. We’d spend a week at a time up north camping, cooking over the fire or Coleman stove, swimming in the lake, and playing cards in our shelter when it rained. To this day, when I hear a metal zipper, I’m within the green canvas walls rushing to seal it against  invading mosquitoes.

A campfire within the fire pit ringed with stones for old time’s sake. We cooked our burgers to smoky perfection over white-hot coals.

Both our parents know how to swing a hammer. Once my sister and I were in college, my parents built a cabin plank by plank with friends. Since our dad designed buildings for a living, the geometrical result is sculpted and cozy.

No, that’s not the cabin, that’s an oak tree where a woodpecker has carved out a home! ; )

This is the cabin. I think most in the north woods are squares or rectangles. Ours is more of an octagon! My dad designed it around the windows. They are a fabulous feature. In the wooden interior, we don’t feel separate from nature, we feel nestled within it. If only we could live in the world the same way.


The cabin’s beauty hides its simplicity. Although we have a wood burning heater, a propane fridge and stove, we have no running water or electricity. The bathroom facilities were only recently expanded from an outhouse fifty feet away to a composting toilet in the basement. Life is quiet, nights are dark; stars parade the heavens.

Cedar shingles cover the cabin exterior. Right angles jut out like cardinal points with windows. Trees grow within feet of the structure.

When the grandchildren were born, my dad redesigned the site to include a second shelter; one that is screen porch above, “honeymoon suite” with sauna below. A covered outdoor screened hallway connects the two. Summer foliage hides the structure from view.

The family complex, octagonal cabin to the left connected by the covered bridge to the square screen porch and honeymoon suite on the right.

We all work hard up north; gathering wood, chopping it, boiling water to wash dishes, but none more than Grandma and Grandpa. Feels good to sit and swing a while. Right, Dad?

This is my dad, a loyal MN Twins fan, on a bench he designed. All Photos: Rebecca Cuningham

Thank you, John Cuningham for our castle in the woods. Thank you, Sally Cuningham for keeping our days up north comfortable and organized. Thank you lake, for keeping the beauty alive.

What is your favorite place?

Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco! ¡Ole! –Rebecca





Rebecca Cuningham

24 thoughts on “8 Postcards from my Happy Place

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