Today I popped into my favorite flower shop in Lake Bluff, Twigs, for a dose of color therapy on this rainy, 38 degree day. I picked up some flowering cherry branches for my mantel, which reminded me of the pictures I took at The Chicago Botanic Garden last April. I can’t wait for everything to bloom again!
This long, treacherous winter has me longing to skip spring altogether and jump into the warmth of a lazy mid-summer day. I’ve been dreaming of green – not scattered shoots of crocuses or the chartreuse of emerging leaves, but vibrant swaths of treetop and grass so lush that it begs for bare feet. Steinbeck wrote in Travels with Charley: In Search of America, “What good is the warmth of summer without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?” I predict this will be our sweetest summer yet.
When I created this blog (my first post exactly two years ago), I never imagined it would bring a wonderful friend who lives 2,000 miles away in San Francisco. Domonique and I were introduced by our mutual friend Janet, my sorority pledge mom at DePauw. She knew that we held similar interests (Domonique pens the blog A Bowl Full of Simple) and would enjoy sharing ideas as well as commiserating. After sharing comfortable correspondence for many months, we met in person at a photography conference in New York last fall where we became fast friends.Then came a surprise invitation just weeks ago – would our family like to spend a long weekend with hers at their home on Lake Tahoe? Janet (who I hadn’t seen in a decade) and her family would be spending the weekend as well. My answer – of course – was an enthusiastic yes, though my children teased that we were traveling across the country to stay with someone I had met on the internet (and I can only imagine what Domonique’s husband must have said when she sprung the idea!). All joking aside, I could have come up with a thousand reasons not to go, but knew in my heart the trip would be one we’d never regret.
We spent three unforgettable days exploring the terrain and lazing about Domonique and her wonderful husband Grant’s lake house, drinking coffee and wine and enjoying delicious meals and conversation near their giant stone fireplace (and champagne in their hot tub!).
On our last morning, Hannah and I woke early to catch the sunrise over the lake. Thank you Domonique and Grant (Lucas, Olivia and Melinda too!) for your warm and gracious hospitality. And thank you, Janet, for creating this connection. It was such a gift to have time with you and your beautiful family after all of these years!
Our family closed 2013 skiing with close friends in Northern Michigan where subzero windchills kept all but diehard skiers off of the slopes. The cold may have prevented us from spending the entire day outside, but paired with a new-fallen blanket of snow, it brought the gift of quiet which was almost as beautiful as the landscape. And it made après-ski feel like heaven!
Wishing everyone a serene entry into the New Year. May we all resolve to love hard, live in the moment, and surround ourselves with those who bring us joy. If 2013 taught me anything, it’s that we only get to do this once. xo
Yesterday’s blustery grey skies created a perfect backdrop for the Chicago Botanic Garden’s jewel toned autumn landscape. Wind gusts scattered leaves along the winding gravel walking paths – a bittersweet reminder of the season’s fleeting beauty.
Each year when September comes to a close, Lake Forest families gather in celebration of autumn and our community’s dedication to preserving open land. Set against the serene backdrop of Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve, this year’s Bagpipes and Bonfire included Highland games, fiddling, fly casting, wagon rides and a delicious harvest dinner. As the sun began to set, a 100 member bagpipe and drum band performed until one piper summited a giant brush mound in the center of the field. The crowd was still as he played a chill inducing version of Amazing Grace, and after the last notes were played, the band marched off with drums beating in unison as the twilight bonfire was lit.
Funds raised from Bagpipes and Bonfire support Lake Forest Open Lands Association, an environmental education and advocacy group that maintains over 800 acres of open space in our community.
Give me juicy autumnal fruit ripe and red from the orchard,
Give me a field where the unmowed grass grows…
– excerpt from Walt Whitman’s Give Me the Splendid Silent SunOur family made its annual trip to the orchard in Wisconsin where we have picked apples and pumpkins for the last nine years. We couldn’t have custom ordered a more magnificent day for taking a hay ride, gathering apples, and enjoying hot cider and doughnuts. Ida Reds, Macouns, Granny Smiths, Cortlands, and Jonathans now sit in two overflowing half-bushels on my kitchen counter. I can’t wait for the first crisp to come out of the oven, filling our house with the scent of warm apples and cinnamon!
Our journeys always began in Penetanguishene, Ontario, where we would gather provisions and fish from the docks while our grandfather readied our boat, Mañana. Our grandmother would stow bags of buckwheat flour, baskets of oranges for juicing and eating, peanut butter, honey, homemade bread, and cornmeal for crusting and frying catches of the day. Milk was stored in the freezer (so delicious with its icy shards when paired with our peanut butter and honey sandwiches!) along with emergency meals for the days we hooked nothing but bottom.
Leaving port was always filled with excitement! When the lines that bound our boat to the dock cleats were tossed on deck and bumpers were hauled aboard, we would motor out of the marina onto Georgian Bay. I remember the smell of Manana’s diesel engine and the eager anticipation of cutting the motor and unfurling her sails. How I loved watching land drift further and further away until it was out of sight! This meant there was no turning back and I could finally enjoy the thrilling juxtaposition of our boat’s intimate quarters against sailing on open, unprotected waters.
We sailed during the day, passing time with backgammon matches, boat songs and turns at the helm, then anchored at night, staying a day or two in one of the protected coves my grandparents had named after each of their grandchildren. The moments of navigating our boat through the narrow, rocky passage ways to reach our secret coves were often fraught with tension. I recall being confused at how they could yell at each other while anchoring but then be so calm and loving afterward. They contended that it wasn’t “yelling” if you were on a boat – it was simply “speaking with urgency.”
Days were filled with blueberry picking (for my grandmother’s buckwheat pancakes), fishing, swimming, canoeing, exploring, and napping or reading in the bow hammock. After dinner we would play cards or tile rummy and look over the next day’s nautical charts. Many nights ended with time in the cockpit marveling at the stars while our grandfather taught us constellation names. Their brilliance against the black of night is something I still dream of today.
Baths were taken in the bay with a bar of Ivory, chosen for its inability to sink. I can still feel the cold water inching up my legs as I eased down our boat’s ladder. If the temperature was unbearable, my grandmother would pour buckets of water into the dinghy and let the sun warm it before washing our hair.
Every trip had a different crew, with parents, cousins, and my Aunt Sally all taking turns.
Save for one year, Kathy was always with me. I can close my eyes now and see her curled up in a sleeping bag with a book on her favorite starboard bunk. She cherishes those summers just as I do, and we dream of returning, together with our families, someday.