Monday, January 25, 2010

Snowy Day

Daniel took snow photos this afternoon-

Winter Sports

This winter, Shelby's a skier, Daniel is a goalie. The weird thing, when we were new parents, we were so proud---they were such extensions of ourselves. If they learned a word or a skill, we felt like sources. Now...well...we know better. We know next to nothing about Nordic skiing or goal tending. We do plenty of facilitating, and we are grateful to others for helping us and teaching them, but it is up to the kids to learn, to dream, to work, to excel---or not.

We're still proud, but in an admiring sort of way...because we fully realize that we can't actually take any of the credit.

(OK, there are moments when I have to talk myself down and remind myself it is not MY hockey game, or MY race....and usually I get there...!)

Have you read Kahlil Gibran...On Children? He was on to something....

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts......

You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Wilderness Winter

Last week’s cold snap made me cringe for the country---for the tropical fish and frozen oranges in Florida, for Cass and Paul waking up to a 26 degree Louisiana kitchen, for anyone attempting to vacation in Miami, for the startled people in North Carolina.

But for us? Some mornings the radio said we were the coldest spot in the country? Not so bad. It’s all in what a person expects. 30 below zero, ok that’s cold, it hurts the exposed flesh and nostrils, but sometimes it’s all part of the winter package. We have Under Armor (do not underestimate the effectiveness of that magical stuff)…we have face masks and mukluks and parkas….no problem. When it gets up to 10 below, we go out. So often it is sparkly sunny and still. Hard to describe to our Missouri friends. But we like it, so for now you don’t have to feel sorry for us.
Sometimes I wonder how to express it so people who call will understand that I’m not making it up.
Everybody gets the initial allure of snow---and childhood thrills, like the taste of snowflakes and Christmas cookies. The trout fishermen and the skiers---they need no convincing, they’re hooked too.
But believe me there is more.
Maybe I should tell you about the arctic air scrubbed with the icy cold. You can taste the purity, just like when you swim in the BWCA lakes, and the water that seeps into your mouth is cleaner than anything else. Not making it up. I LOVE it that the chill clears away any possibility of tropical termites and cockroaches. It clears the way for all but the heartiest residents and visitors.
Fresh air feels like a clean slate. Which is huge when you consider it. Bright Spring start. Can’t anticipate that, without the Winter.

The full moon---I give up on that one..because that’s impossible for me to even photograph, or detail the crunch of the footsteps when it is really snapping cold in the moonlight.

The other day, I tried to capture the gazillion glittering sparkles on the snow crystals---ALL OVER the lake. Couldn’t quite photograph that one either.

Can you feel the Complete Joy of this dog who has been cooped up too long—and finally gets out for a hike?

How about the way snow transforms familiar scenes. Spheres are especially pleasing, aren’t they? The afternoon sun setting. Or the blueness of the clear sky?

Or the calm when it is just starting to snow—so soft, so still. Denali and I have been skiing to Brant Lake…and the feeling of heading out into the silence, and knowing that there is almost no chance that we will see ONE person out there. Not one. There’s something rare and serene in that kind of solitude.
Andy and I followed fresh moose tracks for the entire Centennial Trail—apparently well traveled—(we have spotted a mother and two adolescents by the bus stop.)

But we couldn’t quite make sense of the moose party in the middle of the trail—just this one spot---what were they doing trampling all this??

Always, there is the contrast of life and death---the black standing trees, the snow frosting that lingers on the green branches, the angle of the sun. No winter bugs, and this is not insignificant.

There’s the refreshing feeling of coming inside, rosy and satisfied, where it is warm and cozy---that alone is worth the winter, isn’t it?

We get sick of it sometimes too, but lately, winter isn’t whipping in our faces. It’s tranquility. At least for that cold snap.

And this week, it’s up in the 20’s and 30’s---easy, balmy. I wish I could share it---even with a friend who wrote to me last week that she "was meant to live in the Caribbean." I think--if she gave it a shot, she might like it too.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Chasing Down the School Bus

Last night we cranked up the tunes while doing the dishes, and had a family dance in the kitchen. Sunday night, we were all home---it was kind of fun, and...let's face it....we live in the middle of the woods. Who is going to see us? Daniel eventually got annoyed with the geeky family spectacle he was born into, but Shelby schooled us. Who knew? She can dance.

This morning Shelby and I had to chase down the Gunflint Trail school bus---all the way to Loon Lake. She has a routine to tame her hair, and I have the routine of holding back on the nagging…and since Daniel (and Andy) left early for the orthodontist, no one was monitoring the time.... It is no trivial inconvenience to miss the school bus 47 miles from town, let me tell you.

I've always got room for improvement in this motherhood dance--- letting them make decisions and live with the consequences. Sometimes, I think I’m really really good at letting go, at offering choices, at gentle parenting. And other times, just ask my kids, I’m ridiculously opinionated about their "choices".

This morning I was in the car with our highschool daughter, saying not one judgmental word. How could I? Promptness is not one of my virtues, and there is nothing like a pointed stare to emphasize my obvious word/behavior inconsistencies.

I was reflecting: not so long ago when I was driving Shelby to preschool, I thought I had a whole lifetime to perfect the parenting. Those days, I would buckle toddler Dan into the car seat,then return to “help” an independent four year old get to the car, insisting only that her attire be relatively clean and warm. Apparently even that much was an invasion of her feisty independence, because there were some days when I would eventually pick her up, grab a handful of clothes, buckle her defiant self in, and toss the clothes on top of her, as we drove away. Even though I was silent, the thick tension in the car was unfortunate for sensitive little Daniel. Shelby got herself dressed, but she was MAD! Sometimes she’d throw the clothes she didn’t want up to the front seat, and I was left wondering how the morning turned into the motherhood grade of C- or D+.

Today, 11 years later, I realize this is not a lifetime of raising children, but a chapter with adolescents finessing their way into adulthood. This morning I was hardly even frustrated—I know she is going to be OK, even if she has to miss a day of school. Still I struggle with the puzzle-- how much to guide them-- how much to let them fill in their own blanks.

I was talking to a friend on the phone yesterday about balance, about how much steering is just right. We didn't come up with a solution, or even agreement, but I did realize the importance of friends like this---of surrounding myself with wise advisers who care about my kids---and pick apart my ideas. It's a lucky thing really.

She made it to Grand Marais, Denali and I are getting ready to go clear off the skiff of snow, and enjoy the sunny weather--that is 50 degrees warmer than 48 hours ago. It really is a beautiful winter at the edge of the BWCA. And for today I think I earned a solid B grade for the parent balance . Well, for the morning anyway. Life is good.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

There was a blue moon shining...

I tried to take pictures the other night, with a new little video Flip camera that I got for Christmas. Pretty slick, but not for moonlight. If you want to see a blue moon at midnight from the kick sleds shushing down Round Lake Road, you'll have to come and experience it for yourself. It's something, every tree is magic winter midnight blue ... and it was a fine Welcome-In-The-New Year memory for our family.

I'm including photos of our road ride in the daylight,not nearly the same, but still nice. Really cold today.

I love reliving 2009 during the New Year's holiday, I remember in high school reading Hope for the Flowers, a groovy book about caterpillars that I never fully appreciated. I saved it, because I thought maybe it was profound and maybe one day I would figure it all out. Still, I don't like that book, but I was reminded recently of one excerpt ---

"How does one become a butterfly," she asked pensively.
"You must want to fly so much you are willing to give up being a caterpillar"
"You mean die?"
"Yes and no," he answered. "What looks like you will die, but what's really you will still live."

I'm still working on that whole concept. I have to admit on New Years Eve, I found my same old self again, dragging my heels, trying to linger in 2009. I really LIKED 2009. I like my kids, I like my experiences, I want to hang on, scrapping for every minute, every memory. Guess it's a good thing that I don't get to choose...and now my job is to charge ahead to 2010--- Onward! Happy New Year!