Jennifer Cockrall-King | Cottage Life West
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Every year our whole family looks forward to summer at the lake. But, this year, there’s one crucial difference This spring, it will not be business as usual at the lake. My father, the man who built the cabin, took care of the landscaping, maintained and gassed up the boat, and stacked the firewood, succumbed to a merciless, unblinking cancer. His diagnosis to end-of-life was a matter of seven weeks. Our family closed ranks and held tight as we reeled in the wake of Dad’s death in December. Yet, in the space of a week, we managed to hold a funeral attended by hundreds, and I delivered the eulogy despite a quaking voice and buckling knees. On behalf of the family, I talked about the dad we loved so much. Most of the stories revolved around the sanctuary he’d created for our family at the lake. Afterwards, my mom, my brothers, and I thought about retreating to the place that had always been our refuge. The problem was that that refuge was loaded with memories of him. Already it felt like we’d been hit by an eighteen-wheeler of grief and emotion. Would going to the lake be too much to bear? The cabin is only...

Editorial Note from Winter 2017, Cottage Life West It’s that time of the year again…when a woman’s thoughts turn to her woodpile. Or, at least, this woman’s thoughts do. Have I collected enough throughout the year to last me until spring? Did I split enough “small stuff” to coax a roaring fire until the hardwood logs catch, making coals to keep me warm until morning? And have I given it enough time to season, so that it’s dry when I haul armloads inside to burn? I obsess over firewood. It’s a habit  that I picked up eons ago at the family cabin. I love the scavenging expeditions when a tree falls. I get a ridiculous amount of satisfaction swinging an axe, splitting logs, and stacking wood like I’m prepping for the apocalypse. And then, of course, the payoff: that soft light and cozy heat saturating the room. (Ready to fire up your inner lumberjack? Turn to this issue’s Workshop section, starting on p. 29, for tips on cutting and season-ing your wood—and a handful of other projects to keep you warm and busy.)