If These Walls Could Talk
Walking into the modest living room of the Deal family cabin would not cause a person to be in any sort of awe. There would be no sense of wonder, no jaw-dropping conclusions, and no tears shed over the sheer beauty of the abode. The cabin off the coast of Ottertail Lake, Minnesota does not invoke any reaction of those sorts — quite the opposite actually. Any unsuspecting, average, disconnected person who happened to stride into the Deal cabin would stand there, staring rather unimpressed, at the furniture from the 70s, the wallpaper from the 50s, and the worn floorboards. They would likely shrug their shoulders with indifference and shrivel their nose at the creaking windows and rusted wind chime singing on the porch. They may find the small, yet persistent urge to wander the small structure, only to find paintings of generations previous in each of the three cramped bedrooms. Any ordinary person would step through the front door and be hit with a wall of disappointment as they scanned over the chipped red paint on the porch, or the rickety dock covered in muscles. Any ordinary person would turn around, get back in the car, and drive away — completely unaware of the treasure they are leaving behind. They would never realize how extraordinary the small cabin is. They would never experience the generations of memories, the summers of healing, or the winters of isolation. Any unsuspecting, average, disconnected person would miss this.
Walking into the modest living room of the Deal family cabin with open eyes and a curious heart brings a completely different experience upon a person. The walk from the carport is short. Toads leap across the path fleeing the serenity of the bush, dragonflies zip about in bright blues and periwinkles. The dew on the morning grass is brisk, not yet hit by the sunshine. A canoe decorates the once empty space above the white-painted door that creaks in greeting as you open it. The minute the door is opened, you are welcomed with the warmth of the sun reflecting off the lake. The floorboards moan as you step toward the far window. They welcome you. Not the first person to walk across them, and certainly not the last. There is a sense of wonder hidden in the bones of this old cabin. There are jaw-dropping conclusions to be made and tears to be shed over the hidden beauty of a cabin where so many things were created. If you were to sit on the floral couch and listen, you would hear all the walls have to say. The bright orange pillows and picture frames full of family tell of lives of vibrancy and reliability. The soft blue recliner has a book on its arm, the page marked with a pair of glasses; abandoned for an afternoon floating in the waves. The Deal family cabin has love written into each thing you see.
Built in 1955 by Edwin Deal, lovingly referred to as Ed, the lake cabin’s founding principle was family. It was created so that the Deals would have a place to come whenever the time arose to love, relax, and be with those they grew up with. Built as their fifth and final child was graduating high school, the Deals and their continual love for family and tradition, decided to lay down their roots and establish a consistent place to come and create community. And that is exactly what was formed. As the generations grew, this small house became an integral part of life for every family in the tree. Five generations later, there are families coming to spend time together nearly every week out of the summer. The Oss’s, the McDougals, the Waggoners, the Stutzmans, the Herreras, the Kelleys, the Johnsons — they all come to this tiny piece of land along with many others. This cabin was never a place of bitterness or hate. It has always been a place of family and a place of love.
In the late summer months, the Deal family cabin is teaming with life. Kids dart between legs as they try to catch dragonflies to see if they really do bite. Grandpas swim across the lake after taking a nap in the sun while grandmas and aunts float in the waves on hot pink air mattresses. The dragonflies rest on their ankles where the kids cannot reach. Great Grandparents sit in the rocking chairs on the porch and watch the family they created. Every summer toads are caught and the toad races commence. Every summer a storm comes and whisks the towels off the line; the grownups chase after them, dreading the thought of sopping wet children fresh out of the lake. Some summers the storms are bad enough to flee to the bunker and listen as Grandpas tell the story of the cabin as the family waits for the rain to ease and the wind to calm. Some summers rocks are painted under the dim light of the dining table. On the cold days, trips are made to the candy store; The Little Mermaid is put on and popcorn is made. Because the Deal Cabin is a place of life and of love. No matter the weather, no matter the year.
This little cabin on the shores of Ottertail teaches love. The amount of people embraced, of families reunited, and memories made, grows exponentially as the years go on. This cabin has been etched into the very hearts of those who loved it so dearly all these years. It has taught people the value of tradition, consistency, and family.
While a run-down cabin such as this may not stand for many years longer, it is known that the impact this small cabin had will continue to be carried down from generation to generation, despite the absence of the rickety dock or creaking floor boards. Every time family reunites, everytime a dragonfly is chased, and everytime the family story is told to wide-eyed kids in a storm cellar, a piece of the Deal family cabin is shared.
Walking into the modest living room of the Deal family cabin would not cause a person to be in any sort of awe. There would be no sense of wonder, no jaw-dropping conclusions, and no tears shed over the sheer beauty of the abode. Unless, of course, you knew to listen to the walls.