Dreaming of summerCelebrated Minnesota author Sarah Stonich’s new memoir “Shelter” whisks us up to the Northwoods, into the dream and drudgery of creating a family cabin from an untamed patch of lakeside property.
By: Lindsy O'Brien, Living North
This time of year draws to the surface memories of summer nights “at
the lake,” “up north” or “at the cabin.” With a swoop of lyrical
language and wry humor, celebrated Minnesota author Sarah
Stonich’s new memoir “Shelter” whisks us up to the Northwoods, into the dream and drudgery of creating a family cabin from an untamed patch of lakeside property.
Amidst stands of white pines and swarms of mosquitoes, Stonich begins to build her tiny starter cabin sans electricity, plumbing, access road or
any more than minimal seed money. A traditional log-constructed shed becomes a 10-by-12 foot cabin with a sleeping loft and a vintage cookstove that is nearly as temperamental as it is effective. This, together with a similarly built screened sleeping porch and outhouse, turns a few acres of Minnesota wilderness into a livable and lovable family cabin for herself and her son.
Whether sliding down a mossy rock-outcropping to swim in the lake or
hiking the overgrown hills and ridges that the Minnesota Department of
Transportation threatens to seize for a proposed highway re-route, Stonich
rekindles the pioneer spirit that led so many of our ancestors to brave the
heinous cold of northern winters in order to construct a new homeland in the wilderness of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The land is both aggravating and
inspirational for Stonich, and it eventually brings her closer to the man who becomes her husband.
At times an adventure story, a sweet romance, and a laugh-out-loud
monologue, Stonich’s novel is an ode to family, homeland and Mother Nature.
“Shelter” is the kind of book that will cling determinedly to memories as a
welcome stowaway on our own Northwoods pilgrimages.
Mary Shideler’s light memoir “Mary the Kayak Lady” is the chronicle of an
ambitious journey to experience the natural majesty of 1,007 northern
Minnesotan lakes. Shideler embarks on her adventure in a beautiful mahogany
}sprinkled throughout the book draws the reader into Shideler’s world of
sunning turtles, beaver lodges and a lakeshore blazing orange with autumn
leaves. A handful of prose-like poems with titles such as “Secret Spooners” and “Nervous Kingbirds” give the book an almost whimsical feel.
Full of quirky stories about specific lakes and historical tidbits relating to both named and unnamed lakes of Itasca County, “Mary the Kayak Lady” serves as an entertaining read for those of us who prefer the safety of our favorite well-known lakes as well as a guidebook for those adventurous souls who dream of venturing into the lesser-traveled reaches of the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
“Lured to the mystery of woods and water at an early age,” Shideler writes,
“it is little wonder that I developed a passion to kayak all the lakes in Itasca County.”
The time for summer dreams is now, and there is no better way to
fertilize these dreams than with local literature written by fellow Northlanders who know the exquisite joy of the first unfurled blossoms of spring — whether those early flowers show their shiny morning faces in April, May, or (heaven forbid) June.
MARY THE KAYAK LADY: ONE WOMAN -ONE KAYAK -1,007 LAKES
Publisher: Chickadee Lake Press, 2010
by Mary Shideler
Publisher: Borealis Books, 2011
by Sarah Stonich