While looking back on the photos I’ve taken in the last week, I realized the resounding, repetitive theme could be summed up in one word: white.
It’s been one of the whitest Christmas and New Year breaks in my memory. White can be both good and bad.
I’m so grateful the plethora of white paused long enough to allow the boys and I travel to Baxter, Minnesota, a few days after Christmas to visit my friend Mary. This same friend welcomed our flood-weary selves into her home during the big Flood of 2009. We hadn’t been there since and, because we’d had so much fun then, we all figured it was time for another visit. (If the snow keeps going like it has been, we may be back a few months from now. Mary said she’ll have the banana bread ready.)
A little illness scare had us delayed a few hours, but once the coast and weather were clear, we took off. The only major travel issue was being stopped a few miles out on Highway 10 by a “wide load” house that was being transported. Thankfully, we reached our destination by dinner. Mary and I enjoyed a wonderful meal out at one of her favorite spots while our seven sons stayed home and dined on pizza and Nintendo D.S.
The next day, we gathered up our plethora of snow pants, gloves and stocking caps for a sledding adventure — a first for my boys. The last time we tried sledding, the day ended in a disaster when our oldest child (around 4 at the time) bit it at the end of the hill and ended up with a bloody face. That kept us away for about a decade. It felt great to bring the littlest two to their first sledding excursion:
There’s Adam, my typically timid son (the thinker) raring to go. The hill was much steeper than it looks here, and yet there wasn’t a moment of hesitation on his part. He zoomed right down and loved every moment of the thrill!
Here he is again, getting ready for another round…
There’s one of Mary’s twins (red), along with two of their neighbor friends who lent us some extra sleds and came along for the ride.
This is one of my favorite shots. One of the positives of a steep hill is the extra zip on the way down. One of the negatives is the haul on the way back. Nick, 5, struggled with the return trip each time. In this shot, I snapped just as he was about to lose his footing. Not that I take pleasure in his misfortune but the timing was kind of interesting and unplanned.
Mary caught our backsides here just as I was giving Nick a little nudge on a section that wasn’t quite as treacherous.
And here he is on the return. The fellow sledders below offer a bit of perspective.
All in all it was a great experience — a perfect sledding day with mild temps and a gorgeous sun shining down. The worse part was peeling the boys away from the hill. A little drama ensued on the way home with cries of injustice for not having been given enough time. (By that point, Nick was stopping halfway up the hill and crying for help. We’d both had enough, even though he wasn’t willing to concede.)
A couple days later, this is what awaited us. (Hi snowy back deck! Hi Nick!)
The plan had been to stay a couple nights in Baxter, but we ended up changing courses after weather predictions foretold a big storm. If we hadn’t left early, our family would have been separated over New Year’s. Instead, we ended up trapped in our own home but all together. The benefit was knowing we were all safe and under the same roof, even as our city grew landlocked with no Interstate entrance or exit for two days, and a 100-car pile-up just outside of town which wreaked havoc on all those involved. Thankfully no one died, but eight hours in a vehicle on a North Dakota interstate had to be a real trial.
The next day after that horrid storm (when the coffee shops closed I knew things were bad), the sun shone, wooing the kids outside and me near the window with my camera to capture the snow wall that had erupted on our back patio overnight. (The bubble in the right-hand corner is our metal fire pit.)
Quite an interesting New Year! We rang it in with a feast (thankfully I’d had enough foresight to buy a load of groceries right before the storm blasted) and several rounds of Mexican Train, a game my in-laws taught us over the break — one in which our whole family was able to take part.
So there were a few bumps over break, but if you can get a snowball snack and a ready-made snow fort out of the deal, it’s well worth any inconvenience!
Q4U: Did the New Year bring any unexpected surprises to your world? If so, what?