Blossoming

The world outside is coming to life again and so am I. As much as I try to fight it, the winter months quiet me. The long stretch of cold, sharp months make it hard to find my energy and motivation. Many of those days find me slogging through my daily routine. And I don’t even often realize what a rut I’m in until the air begins to warm, the sunshine visits more frequently and suddenly I feel as if I’m exiting a long, dark tunnel.

Spring makes me feel alive again and I know I’m not the only one. A coworker who was tanning during the last weeks of winter told me, “I know it’s bad for me. I just need the light and the warmth right now so much more than I care about the health hazards.”

Last weekend, as Kacey and I were running errands, she exuded joy when she exclaimed, “It’s so good to see the sun! It just makes me so happy!

I know what she means. Just a little sunshine and warmth is all it takes sometimes to make me realize what a cocoon I’ve been in the last several months.

It’s been warm this week. It’s been a no-jacket kind of week (and what a treat that is!) It’s been a week when I welcome the sound of the alarm clock, lace up my running shoes and head to the gym. (It’s still just a bit too dark and cold at that hour of the day to do my exercise outdoors.)  It’s been a hop in the car, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes and sing along like nobody’s watching kind of week.

The robins are back!

The robins are back!

It’s rainy and overcast this morning. And tomorrow will bring a dip in temperatures and I may have even heard there’s a slight chance of the S-word. But it’s not going to bring me down. The extended forecast calls for more spring-like temperatures. Winter’s in the rearview mirror now!

And the sun came out

The weatherman was saying last night that a big snowstorm was on its way. Yesterday, we enjoyed the one “warm-up” we were going to see in January and already, he was telling us that the weather was going back in the wrong direction. He pointed at a map of the state that was dotted with colors. The big, blue blob moving over our area signified snow; lots of it. He said this morning’s commute was going to be a mess. I only half believed him. The weather has been a presence lately, but you just never know when it will decide not to live up to the hype. Figured I’d get up at the usual time and if a snowstorm was in progress, I’d skip doing yoga and just go straight to the shower. If there was no snow, I’d exercise and go about my normal routine.

When the alarm went off, I shuffled to the family room to look out the big front window and see whether the weather guy had been right. I couldn’t quite decide. Under the glow of the street light, I could see it was definitely snowing. The flakes were tiny but the snowfall was dense and it was coming down fast. Looking across the front yard to the street though, there didn’t appear to be much accumulation. But I knew it wouldn’t take much to mess up the morning drive. So straight to the shower I went.

Within the hour, I had showered, fed the dog, prodded Jake to get up and  get a head start on his own commute. I unloaded the dishwasher, drank a cup of coffee, blow-dried my hair and applied some make up. The last thing I needed to do was make a lunch and while I was doing it, I kept an eye on the falling snow. It was obvious. The weatherman had been dead-on.

I was in my car and on my way a good forty minutes earlier than usual. The roads were covered with snow, the division of lanes indecipherable. Traffic on the freeway crawled. It took me over an hour to get to work and the sky remained dusky; no hint of the sun. My windshield wipers struggled to keep the window clear of melting snow and ice. The defroster blasted on high but couldn’t keep up with the crusts of slush and ice forming on the other side. Several times, I rolled down the side window and reached out to wipe off the snow that kept building upward where the lower portion of the driver’s side wiper was failing. (I have got to get some new wipers!) Clumps of snow flung backwards beneath the tires of the cars that surrounded me.

Driving in these conditions stresses me out. This winter, I’ve seen more stalled vehicles, spin-outs, crashes and rollovers than I can ever remember. Earlier this week, there was a car in the ditch, upside down. The scene moved along outside the passenger window in slow motion while a state trooper pulled over to help. That kind of thing freaks me out. And there are always a handful of drivers that think they’re invincible, driving faster than the flow of traffic, cutting off others, zipping from one lane to another with little regard for anyone else. I’m so tired of feeling like I’m putting my life on the line every day just to get to work.

I couldn’t breathe easy until I was safely parked in my company lot. I felt worn out before I’d even begun my work day. So when I walked in, before I took off my jacket, I decided I was not going to carry that weight around with me for the rest of my day. I poked my head into my coworker, Lori’s cube and with more enthusiasm than I really felt, I smiled big and said, “Isn’t this a beautiful day? Don’t you just love these Minnesota winters?”

Playing right along, Lori exclaimed, “Oh, yes! The snow is so pretty! What a lovely day this is!”

And then we laughed and rolled our eyes and went off to work. But honestly, I felt lighter and brighter than I had just a few moments earlier. The snow continued to fall outside while I immersed myself in my job. And when it was time to go home, the sun was shining fiercely, casting dramatic tree shadows over a new, crusty layer of snow. And it was cold again. Really cold. But the sun was shining. Not for much longer. But it was shining. Sometimes, that’s all you can ask.

Sun 2

And again with the weather!

20140126Boy, the weather sure is demanding our attention this winter, isn’t it?

My weekend did not go as planned, thanks to the weather. I was looking forward to some family time. Brad sent a text message early in the week, asking what we had planned for the weekend. I responded, “Nothing much. Just bowling. You thinking of coming home?”

“Maybe.”

I figured he was bored. I think all of the various hunting seasons are over and it’s probably too cold to go ice fishing. But I was more than happy to let the kids come here and hang out for a couple of days. We let Kacey know that Brad and Heather might be coming home, and soon she was contemplating coming home from school after her last class of the week on Thursday. I love that my kids like each other enough to rearrange plans to spend time together. There was a time when they would have done anything possible not to have to be in the same place at the same time.

Brad’s maybe turned into definitely and Kacey was home by dinner time on Thursday. It had been a really challenging week at work and all I wanted was to walk away for a couple of days and spend time with my kids. Wouldn’t you know it, though, the weather forecast began to look a little sketchy by Friday morning. Brad didn’t think he’d be able to leave work before seven o’clock and he sent me a text message that afternoon saying that if he and Heather couldn’t get on the road before the snow began to fall in their area, they would probably just stay home. I understood. As much as I love to see them, I don’t want them risking their safety to get here. The highway that takes them from there to here is notorious for white-out conditions when it snows and I always worry when they’re out on the road.

In the end, it wasn’t snow that kept them away, but sleet. Brad wisely chose to avoid traveling several hours in the dark in such slippery conditions. I was disappointed, but relieved that I wouldn’t have to worry about them.

And so a quieter couple of days loomed ahead. Still, Kacey was home and I wasn’t the only who was happy about that. Lucy knew she was in for some pampering.

So instead of big family breakfasts, Kacey and I cooked up an omelet to share on Saturday morning. Instead of dogs racing and chasing in the back yard, Lucy soaked up the attention Kacey showered on her and only her. Instead of everyone being home, Jake went to work on Saturday to earn some extra money. Earlier in the week, I envisioned family movie nights, when we would all get into our comfy clothes and wrap up in fleece blankets in front of the living room t.v. Some of us would fall asleep before the movie’s end. Instead, Kacey and I discovered a new series to watch on Netflix. By the third episode, I was losing the fight to keep my eyes open!

I pictured games around the kitchen table and imagined conversations full of laughter and so loud that one would overlap another. But those things weren’t to be. Instead, Kacey and I got out of the house. In spite of the cold and wind, we did a little bit of shopping. She had plans for some of her Christmas money. We grocery shopped and spent time in the kitchen making granola and a batch of soup for her to take back to school. We missed Brad, Heather and Dacotah-Dog because we didn’t get to see them in person this weekend. But thanks to the wonders of technology, we got to see them and talk a while on FaceTime. (For the record, dogs do not appreciate FaceTime. Neither Dacotah nor Lucy was interested in talking into the iPhone camera!)

We made the best of the change in plans and we had fun. Kacey headed back to school after dinner this evening, but not before making Brad and Heather promise to give it another try in two weeks. I sure hope the weather cooperates next time!

Cold Weather Crisis

We’ve reached that point in the winter; the point in which the cold weather becomes big news. The Cold has been one of the top stories on the nightly news and The Cold was worthy of space on the front page of the local section of today’s paper. The Cold is so cold that the governor decided already on Friday to close the state’s schools on Monday.

Weather 20140105It really is seriously cold, and it’s going to continue like this for the next few days. From the radio and television, we hear constant warnings about dressing appropriately for the outdoors, taking extra caution in letting our pets outside and being aware of the needs of the elderly during this time of extreme weather. Makes me glad I bought those big furry hats for all the kids last Christmas!

Bomber Hats 20140105

We wore these today to go take care of our elderly and their pet. Seems my parents’ dog, Little Bear, got his short little legs stuck in the snow and couldn’t get back to the door to come in. My dad, who has just returned home after several days in the hospital with a bout of the flu and is still weak, thought it was a good idea to go traipsing around out in The Cold and the snow to rescue the dog. Suffice it to say that this didn’t all turn out so well. A frantic phone call from Mom sent us running to help Dad up out of the snow where he’d fallen and get him back inside. Thank God we’re only a block away.

After everyone was back in the house safe and sound, I’ll admit it – I was mad! I proceeded to gently scold my dad about his poor decision and reminded him that his health was already in a fragile condition. He needed to remember to stay inside, and now more than ever, call us for help if necessary. We’re right here! We could have come to rescue the dog, easily.

Mark suggested we get a rope or a cable for the dog and hook it up to the railing right outside the front door so that Little Bear can only go so far from the house. If he gets into trouble, my parents won’t have to go chase after him. They can just lead him back with the rope. I volunteered to run to a nearby store and pick up a rope.

Dad wanted to argue that this wasn’t necessary. He insisted that tomorrow, when The Cold will be even colder, that he will just put Bear on his leash and stand outside with him. We argued back and forth, with me reminding Dad that neither he nor Mom should be outside of the house at all for the next few days. My dad is stubborn and sometimes there’s no talking any sense to him. Mark left in frustration. I stayed behind and found myself in a role reversal with my dad. An image came to mind of one of the many times as a kid, when my smart mouth landed me in the family kitchen and on the receiving end of one of Dad’s famous lectures. But this time, I was the one lecturing. I don’t ever lose my cool with my dad, stubborn as he can be, but as he continued to tell me it was okay for him to go outside with the dog tomorrow, I lost it. I said, “Dad, you just got out of the hospital! Have you watched the news? Do you know how suddenly this weather can turn dangerous if you’re not careful? Tomorrow, I’ll be at work. So will Mark. We won’t be here to come bail you out and I do not want you outside with the dog, even for two minutes!”

Dad dismissively told me to do whatever I thought I had to do. I felt bad. But he is so stubborn. And I felt better about yelling at him to ensure his safety than I would have had I backed down and then something bad ended up happening to him.

“I’m sorry if this makes you mad, Dad,” I said. “I’m going to go buy a rope for Bear.”

Kacey and I headed off to Menard’s, just a mile away. We found the pet section and a nylon rope that would work just great. We stopped back home to put on boots and the big furry hats and grab some shovels. Then back at my parents’ house, we shoveled clean a patch of yard straight out from the front door. This way, Bear could get hooked up to his rope and go do his business where my parents can keep an eye on him from inside the house. After making the clearing, we hooked up the rope to the railing and brought the end of it inside the house and made sure the door would still shut. It worked. And Dad told me he wasn’t mad. I said that was good and that I only want him to be safe.

I went back home, frustrated, but relieved that the crisis had been managed. Mom called a while later. She said the rope and the cleared area of the yard worked perfectly for Bear and he had no trouble getting back to the door. And she also thanked me for yelling at Dad.

I feel better now.

 

Cold Weather Effects

The sky has been cloaked in a hazy blanket of clouds today. Even at 7:30 this morning, it seemed like it must be much earlier; the daylight was still so dim. When the sun finally peeked through for a short period of time, it was as if through a filter. Now in the late afternoon, the sky holds a sense of foreboding. The wind picks up here and there, and I can hear ice crystals pelting the house with each gust.

I slept hard last night and only began my day just as Mark was coming home from the night shift. Brad, Heather and I lounged lazily in the living room, sipping on coffee and shivering with cold. Having had enough of the constant repeat of news on Sports Center, Brad surfed channels until he landed on The Brady Bunch. He left it there and it made me chuckle that he actually continued to watch while Heather and I each took a turn in the shower and got dressed.

I ran a few errands with Brad and Heather before they left today. We stopped at my parents’ house to visit briefly with my mom. She said Dad would be ready to come home from the hospital today, but he didn’t want her venturing out in the cold to come get him. She seemed relieved when I offered to pick him up. It’s a slight bit warmer today and doesn’t feel nearly as frigid as it has been the past few days, but still best that Mom stays inside if at all possible. And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. The governor announced today that schools across the state will be closed on Monday. It’s just going to be too cold to risk sending kids out to the bus stop or letting them walk to school.

Weather 20130103coldMy employer is taking extra measures to ensure their employees stay warm on Monday too. Since I have the day off, my coworker sent me a text message to let me know that an announcement was made today. Hoodies, normally banned by the corporate dress code, will be allowed in consideration of the extreme temperatures on Monday. I don’t mean to seem ungrateful, but, really? Hoodies? If my car stalls out on the side of the road in protest of the weather while I’m driving to work, am I going to be safer because I’m wearing a hoodie? Maybe I should bring my Snuggy along for the workday too.

Brad and Heather left early this afternoon to spend the rest of the weekend with her parents. After  we hugged goodbye and they’d gone, Kacey and I headed to the hospital to pick up Dad. The short drive was uneventful except for one weird encounter. Upon approaching a three-way stop, the traffic from both of the other directions was stopped. Two cars in both oncoming lanes were stopped, each with three vehicles lined up behind them. There was also one car to my left stopped on the cross street. No one was proceeding, but since they were all there ahead of me, I waited. No one moved. I looked at Kacey and she shrugged at me. I craned my neck to look all around. Was I missing something? Were there emergency vehicles approaching? Were small children or animals in the intersection?

Nope. Nothing.

Still, no one made a move to proceed. Oh-kayyyy, I said and slowly made a left turn through the intersection. Kacey continued to watch as yet another vehicle took my place, hesitated in similar confusion before finally proceeding slowly forward.

What the heck? I asked as she explained what was happening in my rearview mirror. We may never know. We’re chalking this up to stupidity caused by extreme winter. I can hardly wait to see what Monday morning rush hour brings.

At the hospital, I pulled up in a line behind other cars awaiting their passengers. A nurse delivered Dad to the front entrance and I hopped out of the car to help him into the passenger seat while Kacey relocated to the back seat. Dad quickly remembered he was supposed to be wearing a mask. It’s mainly for everyone else’s protection, he said. I might still be contagious. Kacey fished a mask out of Dad’s bag of belongings and he put it on, but it seemed to bother him the moment he spoke. I didn’t realize, since I was driving, but Kacey later told me that he pulled it down and wore it below his chin for the remainder of the car ride! That’s my dad for ya.

We picked up a prescription at the pharmacy and got Dad safely home. He was welcomed by Mom and Little Bear, the dog. And since the mask meant for our protection was now nowhere in sight, I quickly made excuses and we were on our way. I was ready to hunker down at home for the rest of the day and night. This is definitely hunkerin’ down weather.

 

 

Reveling in the Heat

I believe we are now smack-dab in the middle of what are referred to as the dog days of summer. These days are hot and steamy. It’s the kind of weather that becomes news-worthy. At home, we’re working hard to keep the grass, the flowers and the vegetables thriving. We’re careful not to let Lucy Pie stay outside too long. She has a habit of stretching out on the deck and laying in the sun until her fur is hot to the touch. But us? We are not hiding from the heat inside the comfort of our air conditioned home. We are embracing it!

Saturday brought an invitation from our friends, Bill and Tammy to join them on their big boat for a day on the St. Croix River. Mark was tempted to decline in favor of getting chores done around the house. But I reminded him that summer is all too short and opportunities like this don’t come along every day. When we’re laying on our deathbeds, we’re not going to wish we’d done more chores, I’m sure. And so once he was suitably convinced, we willingly accepted the invitation. We dressed in our swimsuits and packed a picnic lunch. We tossed some towels and sunscreen in a bag and off we went. It was just a beautiful day of bright sunshine and as Bill described it, a blustery wind. We were thankful for the wind. Without it, we might not have been able to tolerate being out of the water for any length of time.

IMG_1270Bill found a good spot to beach the boat and we made ourselves comfortable. There were plenty of other water-lovers out swimming, tubing and playing on the beach. There was a celebratory feeling in the air. We were soon joined by old friends and former residents of our neighborhood, Kirk and Nancy and family. We all marveled at how grown up their kids have become and eight year-old Alex kept us entertained with a shell he found. He dug holes in the sand with it. He filled it with water and tried to trick his mom into dumping it on her head, which sounds rather harmless until you see how big this shell actually was!

mussel shell b

Mark demonstrating the size of the mussel shell

We stayed out on the river until near dinner time before calling it a day. We were all a little sunburned and a little worn out. These hot days will soon be a fading memory as kids return to classes and leaves begin to fall from the trees. My house still needed cleaning. There was laundry and grocery shopping to be done. But I wasn’t having any regrets. My day ended with a feeling of gratefulness for time with good friends and the chance to enjoy a beautiful summer day in such a fun and relaxing way.

And this brings us up to speed

Summer is in full swing here. We’ve had two weeks of sun, heat and humidity with the occasional thunderstorm mixed in. I love to slide into my car after eight hours in an office where the air conditioning works too well. For just a few minutes, I welcome the feel of the car’s heat surrounding me like an oven. As I drive out of the company lot with the windows rolled down, the hot air washes away and the car’s air conditioning kicks in. Feels good!

Mark continues to carry on the A/C battle at home, although I think it’s just become a joke to him now. We’ll watch the news and hear the weather man say, “Tomorrow is going to feel like a hundred!” Then Mark chimes in. “Should we turn off the air?”  I think he just does it to get me riled up and hear me yell, “Don’t you DARE!”

The summer days are passing by too quickly, as they always tend to do. In the nine days since I’ve documented any bit of my life here, much has happened.

My dad had a short hospital stay and while he was there, my mom took a pretty good fall. Both are better now, but in the midst of it all, there was a good amount of coming and going to check on everyone and make sure all was okay.

Gina came from Ohio for a visit and we were able to squeeze in some much-needed, much-missed girlfriend time. It felt so good to catch up with my best friend. There’s nothing like the feeling of talking endlessly about everything and nothing with the person who has known you so well for so long. She’s recovering well from her bout with breast cancer. She looks and acts more like the old Gina than she has in a long while. She and her husband are building a new house. Her kids are doing well and she seems happy. I still miss having her in close proximity, though. Fourteen hours distance from my best pal is just too much for my liking, but I am happy that things are going well for her.

Brad and Heather came home for the weekend. They had hardly been here an hour when the doorbell rang. It was Brad’s old baseball coach. Mark had run into him the night before and mentioned Brad would be home for the weekend. Coach came by to reconnect with one of his favorite players! Over the weekend, we also squeezed in a trip to the farmers’ market on Saturday morning and a graduation party in the afternoon. Brad managed a fishing trip with his high school buddy, Joe. And we all enjoyed a visit from another of his high school pals, Justin. Justin is getting married in September and Brad has the honor of being a member of the wedding party. Justin and his fiance, Jenny came to have pizza and catch up with everyone. I went to bed long before the kids were done visiting.

On Sunday morning, Heather joined her girlfriends in the local Color Run 5K. After the run, Brad met up with Heather and friends for pizza at Cosetta’s. While they were out of the house, I enjoyed some quiet time with “the girls.”

Dacotah and Lucy in a rare still moment...

Dacotah and Lucy in a rare still moment…

Sunday was a beautiful day and I spent some of it doing “activities.” Activities is Heather’s way of describing sun-worshipping. Brad has declared that none of us should purposely sit in the sun. “I don’t want any of you developing Melanoma!” he says. But after enduring snowfalls into the month of May this year, I sometimes feel as if I’m still thawing out. I can’t help but want to soak up a little bit of sunshine and Vitamin E. Not too much; just a little – with some sunscreen. And as soon as the kids were back from lunch, I moved out of the sun and under the shade of the canopy to sit with the family around the patio table. We snacked a little bit and laughed a lot until it was too warm to sit outside any longer. By late afternoon, it was time for Brad, Heather and Dacotah to head home again.

We still have some fun stuff ahead of us this summer – a weekend at a friend’s family cabin, our annual vacation in Bayfield, Wisconsin, and the Minnesota State Fair. Of course, the fair marks the unofficial end of summer, so I’m not looking forward to that too much just yet. The long, snowy winter is still too vivid in my mind. I can sometimes still feel the cold in my bones. So I am just taking this summer one beautiful, warm day at a time.

Summer Storm

I had a long week and was looking forward to attending neighbor Genna’s graduation party after work last night. Genna lives across the street from us and we’ve known her for her entire life. She was born on the day of Kacey’s second birthday. It’s hard to believe that this   beautiful, talented and generous young woman is the same little munchkin who used to make chalk drawings on the driveway with her sister, Maggie and Kacey. And now she’s graduated from high school!

This seems to be the summer of clouds and rain for us. Yesterday’s weather forecast predicted rain and possible thunderstorms. I prayed all day that the rain would hold off until Genna’s party was done, particularly because two years ago on the day of Maggie’s party, it rained the entire day. That was the year Kacey graduated high school, and we had been invited to six different parties that day. I can only remember being unable to shake a cold, damp feeling as we made our way from one party to the next. And I especially remember how frustrated Maggie and Genna’s mom was after working so hard to coordinate what she’d hoped would be a lovely outdoor party for Maggie’s graduation.

As friends, family and neighbors began to gather across the street, Mark and I walked over to join them. The food was plentiful and delicious. The spread included representation of Genna’s Polish family heritage. I especially enjoyed the homemade Pierogis! It was nice to sit and relax and have a chance to really talk with some of the neighbors whom we normally just give a passing wave and shout hello. Clouds covered the sky but they seemed to be doing their best to refrain from opening up. Some of our group began to disperse and so Mark and I headed back home too. He wanted to catch a nap before going to work for the night. I wanted to shop for a pair of sandals that will go with a summer dress I’ve been wanting to wear to work.

I made the quick drive to the nearby shopping district and spent a good half hour wandering a shoe warehouse trying to decide on a pair of sandals. I found a pair that felt like a dream and then, thinking about the fact that Jake and Kacey were both gone for the night and I’d only be going home to a sleeping husband, decided to go wander around another favorite store. As I drove the short distance, a light sprinkling of drops appeared on my windshield. I quickly parked and hurried inside the store before the skies really opened up. And within minutes of my arrival in the store, they did!

I could hear the rain on the roof like the pounding of a thousand drums. I overheard a store employee remark about the intensity of storm. I, along with other shoppers, wandered leisurely around the store looking at anything and everything. Even if we were to brave the elements to get back to our cars, it was the kind of rain that made it impossible to drive. You’d never see three feet in front of the windshield!

tiki manI picked up a couple of new things to wear to work and a Tiki man to add to the Tiki lounge decor out on the deck. Connor’s been wanting me to get this guy ever since he first saw him when helping Kacey buy my Mother’s Day present. He’ll be happy! See what happens when I’m stuck inside a department store and can’t get out? Thunderstorms are clearly good for the economy.

While I wandered the store, I noticed water seeping under an emergency exit door. I was growing restless and wondering when the deluge was going to subside when my cell phone rang. It was Mark, asking where I was.

“Gordm@nn’s,” I said.

“Stay there. It’s bad outside.”

“I know, I can hear it and I can’t even see the parking lot from the front entrance, it’s coming down so hard,” I replied. “I’ll hang out here until I can get back to my car and then I’ll be home.”

“Be careful,” he said.

“Whatever,” I said, thinking he was being just a little bit of an alarmist. “It’s just rain and I’m not going to try to drive in it while it’s coming down in sheets. I’ll stay put until this blows over.”

When I was finally bored of shopping and had the things I really wanted, I decided to go pay for my things and see if I could make a dash for my car. Every time it sounded as if the rain was letting up, the storm would experience another resurgence and I ended up standing in the lobby with my purchases and a few other shoppers, just watching the rain pour down, backlit by the parking lot lights and periodic flashes of lightning. When it finally let up just a little bit, I decided to make a break for it. Other store patrons stood propped against door frames and walls, looking bored. I bent down and slipped off my shoes, dropping them into one of my bags. As I was rolling up my jeans, another woman asked me, “You gonna go for it?”

“I am,” I said, smiling and feeling a little self-conscious as everyone turned to take notice. I picked up my bags, nudged the door open with one shoulder and sprinted through the flooded parking lot to my car under a still-steady rain.

It had let up enough now to drive and I made my way out past the storefronts to the main road. With windshield wipers working furiously, I drove with caution toward home. Just a few minutes down the road, I crossed another main thoroughfare that brings me closer to my own neighborhood and that’s when I began to realize how serious this storm was. The road I was on dipped down into a valley and cars ahead of me were slowing almost to a stop and pulling off to the shoulder. I couldn’t see enough to know what was happening. It was dark out and the rain was still falling, but I soon saw the lead car in our little line-up was making a u-turn. I craned my neck to try to see why. The two cars ahead of me proceeded slowly and I quickly realized what was going on. A flood of water was pouring from a neighborhood that sits up on a hill and a river of water was flowing over the road. I slowly followed the two cars in front of me and managed to pass through the flood without incident.

After crossing the “river,” I had to steer around fallen branches and entire trees. To both sides of me, I saw trees that had been snapped off at their bases or completely uprooted from the ground. A wooden play set  in one yard lay in pieces on the ground. I made a left turn toward home, and grew more nervous. I was only blocks away from my own house and I was seeing yards that were flooded and broken or fallen trees everywhere. It occurred to me that while I was shopping, thinking there was only a heavy rainfall happening outside, there was actually a dangerous storm raging in our area.

As I pulled into my own garage, I saw the last of Genna’s grad party guests huddled inside her family’s garage. Mark was just getting into his truck and I asked where he was going.

“Your mom and dad’s. They lost a tree. Are you coming?”

I was still barefoot from my race through the store parking lot, but grabbed my purse and hopped in. Mark steered the truck slowly through a narrow aisle bordered by the vehicles of Genna’s party guests. One block away, I could see my mom through her front window, hugging herself and talking on the phone to who I assumed was my dad. He’s on a mini-vacation, fishing up north with my brothers. A large tree was laying across my parent’s street, reaching from neighbor Vivian’s yard almost to my parent’s front yard. Mom’s garage door was open and she met us as we walked through to her back yard where one of her trees was now laying on its side, sprawled down the embankment of my parent’s property.

The pictures aren’t great. I only had my iPhone to snap photos and night had fallen. But I could see enough to know that this was one scary storm. People were out everywhere, walking the neighborhood or inspecting damage in their own yards with a dazed demeanor about them. When we were assured that my mom was okay and had agreed there was nothing that could be done about her tree for the time being, we went back home. Mark trekked around the yard in the dark to be sure there was nothing that needed our attention right away. Amazingly, we suffered no damage. My potted flowers are leaning a little bit but otherwise, everything remains where it belongs. There are a few small tree branches scattered around the yard, but they’re not from our own trees. And I find myself amazed at the force of nature and the way it seems to pick and choose where to inflict itself.

This morning there’s the sound of chain saws as neighbors begin to clean up fallen trees and I am feeling extremely grateful that our property was spared.

Finally, the Sun!

The weekend weather was beautiful, almost as if we were being rewarded for putting up with a week of clouds and rain. When I opened my eyes Saturday morning, bright sunshine was peeking around the edges of the pleated shade in my bedroom window. There was only one thought on my mind and that was to get out there! I brushed my teeth and pulled on a pair of my workout capris. Lucy seemed to understand by the way I was dressed that I was going outside and she did not want to be left behind. She sat whining by the front door until I slipped her harness over her head and hooked on her leash. Then she pulled me out the door and took me for a walk.

It was glorious! The sun was such a welcome sight and the scent of lilacs filled the air. Lucy raced along sniffing the ground every inch of the way. We crossed paths with other walkers and runners. And I realized how friendly morning people are. Everyone greeted us with a smile and a cheerful “good morning!”

Up in the northern part of the state, the wind was making it difficult to take a boat out on Lake of the Woods. The fishermen opted to call it quits a day early rather than sit around in their rented cabins wishing they were fishing. Mark called to tell me they were heading home and should be back by dinner time. But they weren’t feeling sorry for themselves. They caught their limit of fish and had some great father-son bonding time.

Lake of the Woods-Boys b

The mighty fishermen

By the time I’d finished my chores on Saturday afternoon, the clouds had returned and temperatures had dropped. It was early evening before the guys got back home and by then, it was raining off and on, but we weren’t upset. The weatherman had promised that Sunday would be the best day of the weekend.

And it was. Lucy and I again started the morning with an early walk. She is so fun to watch as we travel along our route. She’s like a curious toddler, not wanting to miss a thing. There are so many scents to sniff and so many other dogs out greeting Lucy as she walks by. On our way back home today, there was a Rat Terrier barking from behind a chain link fence. He jumped furiously to get our attention, as if his barking weren’t enough! He launched himself in the air with all four feet, his body remaining level while he sailed upward and his head bypassed the top of the fence. Over and over he jumped, trying to get Lucy’s attention. He was such a funny and impressive sight!

Later in the day, I had lunch with my pal, Rose. Rose and I first met when we were six years old and have managed to stay connected all these years. Lately though, we’ve been more likely to communicate over email than in person. It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other. So we scheduled a lunch date, with no real plan as to where to go until this morning.  I suggested we go to Stillwater, a neighboring city full of history. We ate our lunch at a crowded outdoor restaurant with a view of the St. Croix River. Afterwards, we wandered the streets of downtown Stillwater among crowds of other Sunday visitors, browsing antique stores and talking non-stop for several hours. Before we headed home again, we walked along the river, making our way back to the car.

Stillwater1b

Boaters waiting for the lift bridge to rise

Stillwater3

Lifelong friends

We’ve been waiting for a day like this for so long. And it was amazing!

 

Oh Happy Day!

It is 72 degrees Fahrenheit as I write this at 4:45 pm and I am happy, happy, happy!

Lori and I escaped the office at lunch time. We slipped on our tennis shoes and took off walking down the path around the pond. The sunshine and warm breeze felt so good after months of shivering and seemingly endless days of gray, cloudy skies. We walked to Jimmy John’s, bought some sub sandwiches and then found a place to sit outside and enjoy our lunch under a flawless blue sky.

The boss was feeling generous and “ordered” us out of the office an hour early this afternoon. As soon as I got in the car, I rolled the windows down and cranked up the radio. Riding down the highway, it felt like celebration was in the air. Most of the other drivers had their windows rolled down too. We were all soaking up this bit of springtime after being deprived of it for so long! I couldn’t wait to get home and take Lucy out for a walk in the sunshine.

She was waiting for me when I got home. So was Mark, who has a new ambition to join us on our walks due to the unwanted spare tire that has grown around his middle over the winter.

Many of the neighbors were outside as we took off on our walk. They stopped to talk for a few minutes or just waved from their yards. Out on the path, we came across other walkers, with and without dogs. There were children riding bikes and scooters, or just running or skipping along the path. There were runners out welcoming the warm weather. Lucy thought they were all out to see her. She pulled toward every person and dog we came across and as they went on their way, she looked confused, as if to ask, “Why didn’t they stop to pay me some attention?”

 

It was glorious! And to think only three days ago, things looked like this!

Oh, it's SO pretty! (When it's NOT April!)

I don’t miss it. Not one little bit!