Recalling lakeside reading treasures

Cabin reading can take place on a sunny dock in July, or in front of a roaring fire in January. Pexels

At one time, Labor Day weekend marked the end of cabin season, but that was back when cabins had to be closed up for winter. Now we go to the lakes all year round. Cabin reading can take place on a sunny dock in July, or in front of a roaring fire in January.

I recently wrote about going Up North and finding a treasure trove of old, interesting books in the cabin we rented. I wondered then if some of you had made similar discoveries — or if you perhaps had deliberately left behind books for other cabin-dwellers to discover.

As always, you had a flurry of wonderful responses.

Raia Meltzer of Hovland, Minn., worked for 30 years as a caretaker, including at a resort with log cabins that dated to the 1920s. “All the cabins were full of books ranging from the builder’s era thru John Updike,” she writes. “Over 25 years I got through most of them.”

But the title that really resonated was “Time Out of Mind” by Rachel Field.

“It is a story of old Maine becoming a tourist destination ‘way back when,’ “ she wrote. “Since I had also worked at a large vacation property on the coast there, I was somewhat familiar with ‘Mainers’ and their ways. I loved this book so much I read it twice. Now I will have to order from the library or try to find on Alibris so I can read it again!”

Deb Boswell’s story also involves Maine. She now lives in North Carolina, but for years she owned a vacation rental in Surry, Maine. “The home had a loft with built-in bookshelves that had come with some weathered paperbacks and a few hardcover novels. Coastal Maine weather can be unpredictable, so we knew rainy-day activities were necessary, so I began to create a library in the loft.

“Then one day a package arrived — a family who had spent a week in the house had sent us a copy of a children’s book they discovered after they’d returned home. ‘Counting Our Way to Maine’ by Maggie Smith reminded them so much of their wonderful Maine vacation, they sent us a copy and each family member signed the flyleaf.”

Cherrie Mathieson of Fergus Falls, Minn., found her first cabin book years ago, as a preteen in Hong Kong. “It was ‘Gone With the Wind,’ left in our small rented cabin on the island of Chueng Chau. Forbidden by my missionary parents to take the book with me when we returned home, I stayed up all of our last vacation night to find out what happened to Rhett and Scarlett. Until then, I had experienced only happy endings. I sobbed uncontrollably as Rhett said goodbye.”

Mary Dow Ryerse of Minneapolis says her family once owned a 1930s cabin on Dead Lake in Otter Tail County. “Other families had already put their mark on this vintage, gorgeous location when we started coming,” she writes. “I was thrilled to read ‘The Thurber Carnival’ and enjoy the cartoon-type drawings that accompanied the prose. Each summer, that was a gift all over again.”

Beth Bryant of St. Louis Park, Minn. remembers when her parents bought a cabin on Big Wolf Lake near Cass Lake, contents and all. “To the delight of me and my sister, this included the amply-stocked bookshelves,” she writes. There were tons of books, but the No. 1 title was “ ‘There She Is,’ a history of the Miss America Pageant from its inception to 1971. My sister and I memorized that book.”

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