One midnight when I was about sixteen and watching the late movie with Dad, I started to nod off. He rocked my shoulder. “Listenup,” he said, pointing to the screen. I propped up to peer past the bowl of old maids to see Mr. O’Hara, redder than usual, lecturing Scarlett.
“. . . land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dying for, because land is the only thing that lasts!”
Sarah Stonich’s family had once owned land—an island in Lake Vermilion that was lost after the Depression—and while her father still managed to give his daughters the quintessential Minnesota cabin experience, it was on a patch of leased land.
Long after her father passed away, a newly divorced Stonich finds herself yearning for a piece of land to call her own, that perfect spot on a lake, tall pines, a sense of permanence, a legacy for her son, and a connection to her paternal heritage.
“Perfect” turns out to be roadless, raw wilderness near where her immigrant grandparents settled a century before and where the family name is now a postscript. Stonich recalls stories of her relatives, meets admirable and remarkable characters in the community, considers another go at love, and, finally, builds a small cabin. But when “progress” threatens to slice her precious patch of land in half, she must come to terms with the fact that a family legacy is no less valuable with or without a piece of earth.