Loonies and Tunies

The dust is starting to settle from our road trip to Victoria, British Colombia and in one fell swoop, I would like to tell everyone all about it and how much fun we had and how I almost died.

If you followed my new Instagram during those two weeks, you already know what I’m talking about, but running that little social media experiment taught me a few things:

  1. If you’re on Instagram, you are under the age of 20 or (ahem) you are just trying to monitor your child under 20’s selfies. So you don’t care if I almost died, because your selfies are of you, yourself, trying to do it deliberately.
  2. If you’re on Facebook, you are over 20, heavily caffeinated and keeping up with the Kardashians. They seem like a nice family. According to what they choose to post. So you also don’t care if I almost died unless there’s a video of it happening, and maybe an interactive game that tells you your personality afterwards.
  3. If you’re still reading email, you’re getting older. But at least you can still read something longer than five words strung together, covered in hashtags and destroyed by third-grade spelling skills. You are fairly interested in my death if it involves plot twists and a fascinating setting, such as India.
  4. If you just started in on the new Pokemon craze, it was nice knowing you. I’m sorry you stepped in front of the bus while searching for a Pokemon gym, *sad face emoji* but face it, your death will be pretty boring because it did not involve the following real life stuff:

The first week was spent toodling through Oregon and Washington. We visited redwoods and Paul Bunyon and beaches and lighthouses and dunes and ended up along the Columbia River Gorge. We went jet-boating down the Rogue River and saw bald eagles everywhere. We drove past Mt. St. Helens and several other volcanoes in disguise.

Crater Lake lived up to it’s reputation: fascinating and gorgeous.

We loved the Tillamook cheese factory (because we are nerds) and spent half a day at the Bonneville dam waiting for something to go through the locks (because we are engineering nerds) and I found out this abomination exists:

Lamprays: long as your arm, living in rivers, and trying to give you the kiss of death.

However, the beauty of the pacific northwest will knock your socks off. I highly recommend the trip. Just stay out of the water.

Waterfalls everywhere.

Bridges everywhere. This one is six miles long, connecting Oregon and Washington. We drove it just for the shrieking fun of it.

Chuhily Glass Museum. A Seattle “must see”. I have so many photos from this!

Seattle from the Space Needle. That “cloud” on the right is Mt. Ranier. Honest.

Once we were in Canada, we packed even more into our days. We went tubing down the Cowichan and built driftwood forts on beaches and enjoyed bellinis on the bay and wandered farmers markets and rode ferries and camped on a deserted sand spit like Robinson Caruso.

Because a tent is inadequate…

We stared at First Nations totem poles and inhaled Butchart Gardens and hiked past radioactive green slugs. We listened to marimba bands.

But the place I almost died was called WildPlay. My boys got wind of this adventure and demanded we all do it. When it was over, they said it was the best part of our trip. Hmm.

 

My fam was pretty much in paradise. Each obstacle got higher and harder as you worked your way up between treetops. Zip-lines delivered you to the next terror. Er, challenge.

I understood that, as long as I was clipping my carabiner correctly, the mechanism would catch me if I slipped, a thousand feet up.

I was afraid of the first ten inches of free-falling until it caught. Maybe.

I was afraid of being “that guy”. The guy who slipped and had to hang in space like a pinata until the ten-year-old gymnast employee rescued me in front of everybody.

WildPlay Victoria: where the crazy people play.

The steps wobbled, the trees swayed, I focussed on breathing. I did not once look down.

I was most of the way through and proud of myself for neither throwing up nor freezing with my arms around a tree crying, “Hold me!”

But the bicycle handles were my Alamo.

I had to grip them and swing across the abyss to another tree but I couldn’t. My palms were too sweaty and my arms were so tired and I. Looked. Down.

It was the longest ten minutes of my life as my mind fought my body over certain death. Aloud, I insisted I would rather have a root canal. I would rather give birth unmedicated. I would rather do anything than trust my grip on those handlebars. Where’s the elevator? I’m DONE!

I did it.

There was kicking and screaming and denial and possibly tears, and when I finally got back to terra firma I was ready to kiss the sweet ground.

I’d like to see THAT featured in a Pokemon game.

I’m leaving you with one last photo. I like to photograph heights, not be in them.

 

Mt. Shasta on the drive home left us breathless in the best possible way.

I know this was long, thank you for sharing our trip. Ask me anything else in the comment box, and I will try to fill in the gaps. *happy face emoji*

Welcome to Victoria, BC

We crossed the border on Canada Day, which just sings with appropriateness, however unplanned it was. Already we felt Canuck. Slightly french, but with beer undertones.

Victoria is on Vancouver Island off the west coast of Canada, and unlike Hawaii, you can take a ferry to get there. On a map, the whole area looks like a crushed potato chip floating in a water glass.

With trees.

We took the longest ferry ride they offered and scanned islands in every direction, waiting in vain for explosions.

I can watch a dozen fireworks shows from the hill in my backyard on the Fourth of July.

Come on Canada, blow something up. It’s a party, eh?

 

Our hostess with the mostest baked this lush beauty for the occasion, so we had some party after all.

 

Our week was packed with shenanigans, and the very next morning we planned to get onto a(nother) ferry and head to Salt Spring Island for the day.

The girls took the van early, to get a good spot on the boat. The boys decided to take bikes for some manly fresh air. Somehow I missed the memo.

I woke to an empty house and a lone teenager who was assigned one job: getting me to the ferry on time.

Now there’s a good first impression.

By the time I was dropped off at the bustling docks, it was ten minutes to launch.

Striding down to the wharf in a manner that showed I clearly knew what the heck I was doing, it occurred to me that there were multiple ferries going to multiple islands, and none of them were labeled.

Vehicles began to snake their way along the asphalt. Where was ours?

I turned to the nearest orange-vested custodian of the seas, and asked which ferry went to Salt Spring. He pointed to all of them and I didn’t hear his reply because suddenly I realized:

  1. All of my people were on a boat somewhere right now and I was not.
  2. All of my people had a ticket. I did not, because I had been dropped at the curb.
  3. What if my people had my ticket but now they – and my ticket – are on a boat?
  4. My cell phone was internationally useless. I was on my own.

What is this nonsense? Who has to hop on a boat anytime they want to go somewhere? Where are the bridges? Why do we all need tickets? Where do you buy tickets?

It was five minutes to launch.

I must have babbled some of that out loud in a properly befuddled American tourist accent, because the orange vest then pointed in the opposite direction. I retraced my steps at a trot now, fondling the one thing that could save my bacon: a credit card.

The tiny office held a lone officer who was talking a tourist through something that was obviously not as important as my imminent hysterics.

Taking a deep breath, I tried to communicate my plight telepathically.

Manners are so overrated.

Just then, another officer walked through the door and I leapt into her personal space crying, “Ineedtogetonthesaltspringferrythatleavesrightnowandidonthaveaticket!”

“Oh, honey, I think it’s too late to sell you one, but I’ll just call up there and ask.”

Maybe they just like to watch the tourists writhe a little.

She sold me a ticket, one eye on the clock, and I flat out ran the entire length of the landing, past startled shoppers and through queues of moving cars and lounging coffee sippers and disapproving orange vests.

Dignity is so overrated.

The last vest pointed to a boat and breathless, I reached the gate.

There was the Hubbs.

He was standing on my side of the ferry.

An orange vest escorted us on board and closed the gate. The engines started up.

“What were you going to do” I asked, “if I missed the boat?”

“Stay here and have Tim’s with you,” he said.

I reckon that guy can pack the luggage in the car any way he wants, eh?

 

To Canada in a Tin Can

Put four people into one car for a week, and you tell me whether anyone will be snatched bald at some point between miles 800 and 850.

The first day is all pedal-to-the-metal so you can get as far away from home as possible. You can tell by your kid’s breath what the current snack is and his kneecap keeps drifting into your back through the seat, but you don’t care because you have places to go.

Half way through day two, you realize that no teens have been looking out of windows at all. They are sitting in virtual reality with a full arcade at their fingertips and earbuds that have not transmitted a single one of your, “Hey kids! Look! More cows!”

They are happy.

Your job is to find cows and snacks.

Your job here is to adult, and you are not allowed to substitute an alternate reality for your current one.

So you maintain a certain amount of presentness in the form of, “Slow down dear, I present to you: The Speed Limit: 70mph” and awareness in the form of, “I am aware that you can drive just fine, thank you, but I’m not comfortable with all of us landing in the Gorge of the River Hades today”.

On day three it dawns on you that Hubby’s insistence on packing the car each morning, sweet as it was on day one, is actually a sneaky bid for world domination.

There is only one way to pack a car: his way.

If you attempt to load your little carry-on in the wrong order and it lands between his gigantic hanging clothes bags and his shoe bag, you will be court-martialed and the entire car gutted so he can begin at the beginning.

I’ve got my smartphone, my passport, my turns-into-everything scarf.

It’s a jacket, an umbrella, a blanket, a hat, a pillow, a skirt, a knapsack, a neck warmer and also a baby sling if I happen across a wee abandoned orphan near the duty-free.

It says, “This woman packs three things for a two week vacation.”

This time, I went wild and added some moose repellant.

Hubby packs everything he owns.

“You just never know,” screams his luggage between tightly clinched zippers.

The man enjoys his options.

You sit on the curb with a steaming cup of bad hotel coffee in a paper cup and chug it while he plays Jenga with the baggage.

Day four: I am the only driver allowed. Hubby can take his map and his smarter-than-I-am phone and his every-five-minute traffic updates and stare silently out the window looking for unicorns.

Fidget, fidget, fidget.

Sometime in the middle of day five, I see Hubby’s hand reaching slowly towards the A/C button.

With eyes steady on the road and in a Chuck Norris voice meant for a room full of eighth graders I say,

“Touch that, and I will chop off your hand and slap you with it.”

When we finally arrived at the Canadian border, I may have been a little sassy with the passport lady.

Honestly.

Maybe we resembled crazy-eyed terrorists by then, but we had fully discharged our explosives somewhere over Oregon.

“Go ahead and search the car, sister,” I thought, “but heaven help you if you don’t repack it correctly.”

Homing in on our destination, the kids popped briefly into reality.

“Um, what does that speed limit sign mean, Mom? What’s 100 km/h?”

“I have no idea and I don’t care. I’m making it up.”

Which is fair. They make money up here that could be any amount. Any at all.

“You’ll go to jail.”

This I know to be false. Cops in Canada ride horses.

They’d never catch me.

I am all done adulting.

Time to wrap up in a scarf, drink tea, and melt into my own alternate reality.

And believe you me, there are no cars there.

 

When Santa Goes AWOL

Silly me.

I thought if I got everything done on The List in the appointed time frame and stood in the long lines without whining and wrapped the presents with gritted teeth while listening to Imagine Dragons really loud (hey, I have to cleanse my palate from the non-stop sugary jumbo pop of carols somehow) that Santa would take pity on me and go away for good on December 26th.

He’s still right here in my office, laughing with glee and kicking up his heels because his sleigh was hijacked in Toronto.

Which landed him and his empty sack on my USPS website, shrugging vaguely and giving me a look that says, “Sister, are you ever screwed.”

I wanted to send two gifts to Canada. How hard can this be?

The first was a gingerbread house.

I went shopping for one and found a magnificent gingerbread condo complete with runts, M&Ms, and sweet tarts for the icing.

When I discovered that I would have to take out a small mortgage on my own house to ship it, I rethought my strategy.

I have a girlfriend who does Christmas every year in her jammies at home, online. She clicks her mouse and Santa’s elves grab the gift, wrap it, sign her name, and deliver it to the doorstep of a lucky recipient.

My particularly suspicious mind cannot wrap itself around this voodoo.

It prefers to pinch and poke and sniff a potential gift before it’s approved for giving.

But it was time to open my mind to this brave new world.

Turns out, there is a version of Amazon in Canadian. Which made me feel great, because even though I still paid for shipping, it was in Canadian dollars which are attractive and make me feel slightly french and translate to smaller American dollars in the end, which is a really fun parlor trick.

I found an adorable gingerbread kit and pushed the “go” button.

Slightly dizzy from the speed wherewith I had just dispatched Santa, I gleefully went further into the website for gift number two.

No dice.

What I really wanted to send was See’s candy, an American thing I guess and would have been wasted on a Cadbury fan, but I knew my girlfriend liked milk chocolate bordeaux. The girl has taste. So.

I brought my box of chocolate delight to the post office fifteen minutes before it opened, and joined the long line already forming down the walkway.

I filled out customs forms and addresses and hummed some tunes and held a shoe judging contest with everyone else in line (the snappy brown buckled boots won) until it was finally my turn.

The post office is exactly like the DMV, only they don’t provide chairs to sit in while you wait. You finally get to the window and are practically hopping in anticipation of being DONE and the employee moves leisurely and chats about the weather and asks “isthereanythinginyourpackageflammableliquidhazardouspotentiallyhorrifyingormaybegrowingmold?”

And you say, “Nope.”

Then they smash it with a hammer, cover the damage with a label, toss it into a bin behind them, and demand all your money.

And you give it to them.

I tracked my first class package online. I’m savvy like that now.

It was a cute little timeline that showed precisely where my bordeaux went, each step of it’s adventure.

It touched in at exactly twelve spots, working it’s way from Los Angeles to Louisville and crossing the border into Hamilton and continuing on into Toronto.

All of this in four days. It was very exciting.

And then it was delivered to it’s final destination: Singapore.

On December 18th, 2015, at 11:01am, within a stone’s throw of my girlfriend’s doorstep, someone in the Canadian postal system must have hit his thumb with his hammer and in the excitement, tossed my package into the wrong bin.

Now, I myself do the same thing all the time, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that at 4:29am local time on December 22nd, my box of bordeaux was processed in Singapore.

Canadians are hockey players. They can get a puck the size of a quarter into a net the size of my car. You’d think they could aim.

Or maybe not.

The status on my USPS timeline still claims the package is “in transit”.

I’ll bet it is.

In transit to someone’s lucky mouth.

I went back to the post office today to mail off the tea to last week’s prize winner.

When I finally reached a human (this week, the neon sketchers won) I informed her that I had grossly overpaid and overestimated their services to Canada.

She mentioned that they had kicked my package to the Canadian curb in record time and once it was across the border, they washed their postal hands of the situation.

She didn’t have the information on the man in Canada who had smashed his thumb, so I could add insult to his injury.

Just as well, I guess.

Christmas and all.

My faith in the postal system shattered, I handed over my tea, wondering who in Iceland was going to end up enjoying it.

I went home thinking, “Well, at least there’s still Amazon. That package made it just fine. That’s it,” I resolved, “I’m using that from now on!”

There was an email waiting for me, from my girlfriend.

There was the gingerbread house I had sent, dutifully put together.

It was a gingerbread closet. Not even a leprechaun would fit without icing up his nose.

It held one breath mint over the front door.

So Canadian grams and American ounces aren’t the same, you’re saying? Am I supposed to translate millimeters and yards and ratios? There’s no math in Christmas!!

I wash my hands of this brave new world.

If you want something done right, you do it yourself.

Guess I’m flying to Canada.

Santa can wipe that smug look off his face.

You’ll Always Be My Friend…You Know Too Much

I received a birthday card this year that said, “Let your dreams be bigger than your fears; your actions louder than your words; and your faith stronger than your feelings.”

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In the basement of a sweet little church last week, I stood up in front a group of women and let my dream of saying something intelligent be bigger than my fear of choking on the spot and dying a very public death.

For sure, leading a gym class and gaining perspiration would’ve been easier than leading a Bible class and gaining inspiration.

And as it turns out, when I stood in front of these beautiful women, my faith wasn’t in my own abilities to speak, but rather in their intentions to listen. I had to believe that somewhere in my ramblings, each of them would hear something that spoke directly to her own heart. Something gloriously small and explicit. Something, I hope, that made them glad they were sitting down with enough time to enjoy the new thought.

The title of my classes, “On the Care and Feeding of Your BFF”, was chosen by a group of girlfriends months ago, as they were lounging pool-side. I actually asked them to vote on what I should talk about in Canada.

I’m cool like that. (I’m also sadly unfocussed like that.)

But, as every writer knows, all bets are off when you sit down at the keyboard.

Martha and Mary of Bethany kept butting into my notes and no matter how hard I explained to them that they had lost the vote, they would not get out of my face.

So I let them take the floor, and Class 1 was born.

They showed me how to behave like a “best friend forever”. And how not to. And what happens when you let Christ take over your heart. And what happens when you don’t. They both looked me in the eyes and reminded me that the Good Samaritan hadn’t seen his choices coming, but when he saw a wounded man, he didn’t see danger or calculate a backstory or contemplate excuses.

He just reached into his bag and pulled out a massive can of instant and lavish compassion.

“Let’s do this,” I hear him think.

End of story. But also the beginning of ours.

The ladies in Ontario played along with me as we explored the many languages of love that feed and nurture those deliberately connected relationships.

We had soul-warming soups for lunch, and faith-building, hand-holding conversational comfort food; the kind made of good old fashioned face time, bubbling along with laughter, our individual flavors melding together.

Later, we went deep into the pits with Jeremiah and up to the mountain top with Elijah.

Caring for your friendships needn’t stop when one stumbles into a pit.

For the girlfriend who suddenly doesn’t know what to say or do, this class held tools for building ladders out of pits and ways to hold on to each other when life gets real.

It does get real, doesn’t it?

How wonderful to know someone has your back.

Amazing things happen when women gather together.

Their love for each other is so tangible.

I am thankful for the prayers and encouragement, the mentoring and editing that countless women supported me with as I walked this road to Canada.

It’s changed me in ways I haven’t yet put words to.

And I know that, one BFF at a time, we are going to make it through this crazy life of ours, holding hands, pressing onward, and yes – very likely – giggling a lot of the time.

Canadian Capers

You. Guys.

I just had the best adventure!

I spent a week in gorgeous Ontario, Canada.

I wandered through autumn-colored forests of pine and aspen and ash and maple, dripping ferns and lush moss. It’s beautiful countryside.

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Every road leads to water, over water, or around water.

Look at a map of Canada. It’s got more lakes than swiss cheese has blow holes.

The locks move boats between lakes and swing bridges make passage for the taller boats.

If you own a “cottage on the lake”, you’ve arrived.

Lake Muskoka

Lake Muskoka

If you own a house on a tiny island, you’ve arrived, won the lottery, and get to drive a boat to work.

If a Californian gets in a boat, there is no way he will end up at work.

They’ve never had a drought and you can’t find a cactus for beans.

Which is why my luggage was over the weight limit.

I had to rearrange my suitcase in the airport and carry on the five pounds of tortillas.

The beans stayed wrapped up in my boots.

Priorities, ya’all.

I did find avocados there for $1.99 Canadian.

They came from Mexico.

But all of the grocery store packaging is in English and French. Not Spanish.

This is a classy step up in my opinion, but does not compensate for their drought of Mexican food.

In the airport, I traded some ‘Merican money for Canadian cash.

If your money is called “loonies” and “toonies” (a thing which even putting the Queen Mum’s face on it can’t redeem) then your freeway speeds make up for it.

Here’s photographic proof that your car can hit 120 km/h….which is basically crawling down the highway at 60.

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But it looks great on the speedometer.

People were delighted to tell me snow stories.

It’s like they don’t want me to come back.

“There was the year the snow reached to the middle of this telephone pole. That was the year they closed the highways. It’s not really a problem unless the snow is blowing. When it’s windy, you can’t see two feet in front of you. You drive super slow in case someone is stopped in the street in front of you. You don’t dare stop because the guy behind you can’t see, either. And also, you can’t stop anyway…we end up in the ditches a bit.”

Uh huh.

I visited at the exact perfect time of year, which travelers should always strive to do.

And while I could drone on and on about my adventures, I won’t (you’re welcome) because the main event – the flocking of females, the gathering of gregarious girlfriends, the bevy of Bible lovers – was the most beautiful thing I saw in Canada.

Freshly squeezed Canadian

Freshly squeezed Canadian

We’ll go there next.

Bend In The Road

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” wrote the poet, Robert Frost.

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I recently accepted an invitation to speak at a women’s retreat in Ontario.

Yep, Canada.

It’s slated for the end of September when, I am informed, “there’s an eighty percent chance of beautiful fall colors and a zero percent chance of snow on the ground”.

Which is, as you know, terribly attractive to weather wimps such as myself.

As close as I can figure it, the ladies there were reading my blog this spring, and in a fit of desperation born of an eternal winter, decided I was just the one to join them over a hot cuppa and lead a few discussions on life in the trenches.

Well.

When paths diverge, what’s a girl to do?

This particular path smells briskly of moose and pine and possibilities.

It’s delicious.

Although I have not yet met these lovely ladies, if they’ve had a child explode a loaded diaper in their lap or a meal explode in their microwave, we already share the kinship and camaraderie of Girlfriends.

I could lead an entire class on the pros and cons of using a single closet to hold nothing but canned goods (labels out!), but that’s not why I’m going.

I’m going because I know that Life in the Trenches can get seriously messy.

And awkward. And stupid. Sometimes things happen that we definitely didn’t sign up for.

We all have days when we feel lost, overwhelmed, underpaid, and darn it, our feet hurt. We want to sit down and have someone rub them.

We’d like to just sit down, please.

We see two roads diverging in a yellow wood and can’t for the life of us figure out which one we are supposed to take because we still have the grocery shopping, soccer practice, bills to pay, and the dog to worm, and already we’re suspicious that the yellow wood may be yellow for a reason.

Especially if snow and kids are involved.

With multiple paths wandering around shadowy corners to destinations unknown, we face decisions all day about which way to turn next.

Moving always onward, our choices are making all the difference.

And if today is the current sum total of every choice we ever made, then might it be possible to choose our next bend in the road with slightly more intention?

The path that seems rockier but holds a little more brightness? The path that heads uphill, but gives a little more grace? The path that scares me but feels more compassionate? The healing path that feels like laughter could be possible, even through tears?

When I tell this story of Canada, with a sigh, ages and ages hence, I will say that I chose the road that felt most like God calling me.

And also, I will say with a smile, my paths were full to overflowing with Girlfriends!

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost, 1916

Canadian Winter Wonderland, by Hannah

Winter in Canada you ask? Isn’t it winter all year, way up north past the solid line on a map?

Well let me tell you a little bit about where I live. I live close to a town called Orillia, Ontario, Canada. It is a beautiful place in the country and we love it!

Our property has about two acres of lawn, so on November 14th, 2013 I mowed the lawn for the last time (in a t-shirt cause it was so unusually warm), cleaning it up so when spring comes there isn’t a lot of long, dead grass.

The following weekend we got about four inches of snow, the beginning of our winter wonderland which didn’t leave until after Easter.

It was so cold the car wouldn’t start cause the gas was frozen and when you sat on the seat it felt like a block of concrete instead of foam and when you breath in your nostrils stick together. We had a way above average amount of snowfall, approximately 120 inches, with temperatures averaging around 5F. The kind of winter that when it actually warms up and hits the freezing mark, you go outside in just a sweater cause it’s so warm.

Everyone is saying how this is just like it was when we were growing up.

With six months of weather like that, one has to find things to do so you don’t go insane and start banging your head against the walls you’ve been staring at. There are all kinds of winter sports, skiing (downhill or cross country), sledding, snowshoeing, skating, and building snow men and snow forts.

This year we decided to take on snow shoeing!  We bought a couple of pairs and figured out how to get these huge metal and plastic frames strapped to our winter boots. You have to bend over to buckle them, which isn’t the easiest when you are wearing two pairs of pants and snow pants, two sweaters and a winter, down filled jacket, ear muffs, scarf and two pairs of gloves!  You already can’t feel your toes cause you have at least two pairs of socks on and the circulation is poor once you’ve tied your boot laces tight enough so you don’t have to bend down in half an hour to tie them up again after they’ve managed to wiggle themselves undone!

All the while you are getting ready to go out you have to convince your brain you really don’t have to use the washroom again cause you were smart and went before you started getting dressed…but it never fails to fool you.  This is all of course, after you have spent fifteen minutes helping your child get all his stuff on, snow pants, coat, boots, hat, mitts, scarf etc. only to take it all off cause you forgot to check with him to make sure he went to the washroom before he got dressed up.

We manage to convince our son who is 3 ½ that it’ll be fun to sit in the sled and get pulled around the snow in 5 degree weather for an hour, and off we go, up the road onto our neighbors property to trudge through her ninety five acres of fields and woods. We get to the beginning of the field only five minutes into our walk and our boy says, “I’m cold, I want to go watch a movie.”

I think to myself “there is no way we put all this stuff on (sometimes twice) and got ready to go out in the cold for five minutes of snow shoeing”, so I put on my happy face and say, “But it’s going to be fun, we’ll look for animal foot prints and maybe we’ll see a deer or a bunny, we’ll find you a stick you can drag in the snow!” and we keep going.

The snow is so deep in some places we sink in up to our knees even with snow shoes on, but that’s OK cause it’s a great workout: we go through the trees and listen to the birds and look for the elusive tracks we never find, we explore logging trails in the woods and try to make it fun for our boy by stopping suddenly and then running (as fast as you can run with snow shoes on), tipping the sled back and forth, occasionally going a bit too far and having to stop and wipe the snow off his face. In one spot there are a lot of fallen logs covered in 18-24 inches of snow, so we go up and over these, down through the fields trying to stay out of the wind that has whipped up and started blowing snow around.  I think about how beautiful everything is washed in white, the dark trees are a stark contrast to the whiteness, it is so bright, beautiful and clean.

Then I hear “Mummy I’m cold can we go home now?”. I’m just getting into the excitement of it all so I look at my husband. He also has the look of “I’m done, let’s go home”. So off we go, back in the direction of home. I could keep going for another hour but I know if we don’t get home now we’ll have a full melt down.

I stop to look back over the fields.

There is something so beautiful about seeing the tracks of a snow shoeing family.

It’s breath taking and for a minute I actually feel thankful for living in such a beautiful place with the four changing seasons. I try to imagine what it’ll be like up here when it’s all brown from the winter, little flowers poking up through the earth, blades of green grass foraging their heads through the dead remnants of last years life.

Then I get the sudden freezing blast of wind and snow in my face, and I’m so thankful for my nice warm house, hot chocolate and movie time with my boy!