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The family lake cottage I grew up with in Wisconsin was a charming little haven that exuded a sense of calm. I always loved that moment of swinging the door open and smelling the “cabin-y” smell that promised a relaxed good time.

In 2004, my then-husband and I were ready to find our own place. After a long search, we found a spacious, well-designed and nearly new cabin on a quiet stretch of the Flambeau River south of Ladysmith, Wis. It was on 220 feet of heavily wooded shoreline on a river that was usually too shallow for motorized boats. What really sealed the deal was that familiar “oh wow, this is so peaceful” feeling as we walked in the door.

The cabin had a tranquil, unruffled personality. Its paneled walls, ceiling and floors released a subtle woodsy scent, as did the surrounding forest and the smoke from outdoor fires that clung to our clothes. It was a quiet place for journaling and cozy fires and long naps, walks and talks. Playing games on the screen porch, especially on a rainy day, became a favorite activity, as did sitting on the dock after dark listening to owls hooting. A kayak was the perfect way to explore the river. It was rewarding to watch visitors share the same “oh wow” moment when arriving for the first time.

Having a place to just be helped us weather the Great Recession and an amicable divorce, but eventually we closed the door for the last time and moved on to other beautiful places. Years later, we look back with gratitude for the peace this river cabin gave to each of us and so many others.

Patti (Kight) Peluso, St. Anthony