What I Miss Today

Often what I miss about our year away is that closeness as a family.

Yes, it could get annoying to be surrounded by my people 24/7. Claustrophobic even. But after we came home, life swept us back into its current. Though we make an effort to stay tight, I think a certain degree of separation is inevitable over the years. I suppose it’s natural to let nostalgia color that time. “Remember when we were together so often that going to the bathroom seemed like a little vacation? Yeah, I miss that.”

These days, Sam is heading into the tween years. Jim and I are glimpsing a new teenager attitude in our smiley-faced boy. It’s not offensive so much as it is a sign: Someday he will leave us and go his own way. Same with Zadie. It’s the natural progression of life, I suppose. But it can sure make a mama melancholy every now and then.

These photos were taken on a family hike just outside the village. One of the weird and wonderful adventures in Mrkopalj that is on my mind today—and not just because we got lost and thought we might have to eat someone in our party.

I Wish You Discomfort

There is no image with this blog post. I hope you don’t mind. It’s just that, on New Year’s Eve, when this story takes place, I had a personal press blackout. And also, my camera froze up a little bit.

We’d traveled with some other families to a cabin in northern Minnesota for that weird space between Christmas and New Year’s. We do it every year, travel during that time. We don’t go far. But it seems like after the hosting hubbub of Christmas, we’re all ready for a break from the house.

We did some skiing, some snow tubing, even some dogsledding. It’s nice up north in winter. Nobody else is up there, except a few other rosy-cheeked souls. I like the empty sound of boots crunching cold snow. I like the snap of a fire at night. We stayed somewhere we could get one of our favorite things: Free breakfast in a lodge.

But the kids were up really early every day, and we played hard in that snow. By 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, most of us were tuckered out. I almost went to bed myself. Except the lake out there beyond the cabin wouldn’t let me.

The ice cracks on a frozen lake. It shifts and groans and when cars drive out to their ice houses, it can cause big fissures on the surface. The cracking makes an echo, and it’s a really haunting and lonely sound. It’s seductive, in a strange way.

Jim, my friend Kyle, and I, were the last ones standing on New Year’s Eve. I felt compelled to go out on the ice for the stroke of midnight, even though it was like 15 below. So I bundled up and I did, just to see what was out there, causing all this odd urgency in my brain.

As I walked, the stars really popped, and the plain of snow covering the lake was almost blue in the moonlight. It crunched under my boots. The ice shifted sometimes as I moved. If I didn’t know it was frozen for a few feet down, it would’ve been scary. And maybe my heart did jump a little, especially when the thundering was so loud.

I stood out there, and the year changed from a very wonderful 2012 into the unknown of 2013, and the cold was so sharp it made my nose and fingers hurt. A shooting star slid across the dark sky.

Maybe we’re at our best, we humans, when we put ourselves into uncomfortable situations. When we go beyond the place that comes easy, into an unknown. We’re more alert. Edgy even. Pores wide open to the bright stars above, and the cold depths below. We feel more.

I ended up calling Kyle and Jim, and they joined me out on the ice. We hugged and welcomed another year of our lives. As we stood there, admiring the quiet, a pickup drove out onto the lake.

It was a solo driver. He rolled out into the middle of the water, got out, shot off a single bottle rocket, then got back into the truck and returned to wherever he came from. Maybe a warm cabin. Maybe his own comfortable house, where a wife and kids snoozed peacefully.

Was this his own tradition? Or a one-off dare? I’ll never know. But I like to think that the lake called him out there, against his better judgement, to witness something entirely different. A new thing. The space between the usual wheel ruts. Maybe it calls everybody that way sometimes.

Happy New Year. I wish you connection, joyful travels, and a bit of self-imposed discomfort, to help you find the magic in all of it.


Full Woodpile, Full Heart

Few things make me happier than this sight. Joe the Wood Guy rules. (Plus, he likes rakija.)

May your holidays be full and warm.

Love to all.


My Friend Jen's Family Recipe Book

Here’s what my dear friend Jen will be cooking from this Christmas. Jen owns a lovely lovely lotions and potions shop called Eden. You casino online won’t find a better one like it anywhere in the world. Believe me. I’ve tried.

jens familys

I especially love this page of the notations:

note from joe

Get Signed Copies from Me

If you’d like a signed copy of the book for a holiday gift, just email me. jen@jennifer-wilson.com.Running Away to Home

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