A Cottage in Winter


In the late 1800's, Gustave, a young man from the old country, emigrated to the new world carrying almost nothing but hope. In his new country, he found an unskilled job and eked out a living doing manual labor.

After saving for many years, he and his new wife, Julia—also a recent immigrant, finally were able to buy a plot of wooded land on a nearby lake and build a small cottage for their growing family, with the addition of their first child, Mildred.

The three lived in the cottage on the lake for 15 years before Gustave was sent to France to serve in the infantry in World War I. Seven months later, a message reached Julia from Europe with notice that Gustave would not be coming home; he had fallen at the Second Battle of the Somme.

Julia was unable to stay with Mildred at the cottage afterward. The small house stood vacant and dilapidated and the lot became overgrown over the years, nearly to the point of eliminating the cottage from view and memory.

Until many years later, when Julia’s great-granddaughter, Catherine, learned about the forgotten old cottage, located the small lake and plot of land, and began the project of reconstructing the deteriorated building. She found a corroded tin box under the floorboards of the rotting structure and found that it contained Gustave’s pencil sketches of the floor plan and other sketches of the finished building from more than a hundred years ago. Catherine used those sketches to guide her rebuilding project, sticking to the original plans as much as possible.

Last winter, after three long years of work, Catherine completed the building and hosted a gathering of family and friends to commemorate the new cabin and to celebrate the lives of her great-grandparents, the immigrants who first built their lives, and this small cottage, in the new world.

Woodblock print with watercolor
5.5" x 7.25"; Edition of 50

(names, events, and story are fictional)