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New Years 2001 - greetings from the lake

(Posted January 25, 2001)

This is an email I sent to friends & family on New Years. You may also want to check out the pictures we have from this holiday. Soon I'll post a movie/slideshow patrick made from the pictures and the song.

Subject: new years by the lake
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 2001 19:02:46 -0800
From: Dan


It's been a lovely New Year's up at the lake, outside Spooner, Wisconsin. Melissa and I have been here since Friday with her sister Kim and her parents Steve & Barb, along with Willow (their very friendly dog). As I write this, the sun has gone down and the sky is full of stars. The moon is just shy of half full--I bet if I went down to the lake I would see moonlight reflected off the lake's proverbial blanket of snow. I may just do that after finishing this email.

Corey (Kim's fiance) was going to come up to the cabin with us, but between not being able to take any days off (he's saving them up for their wedding in April - on Earth Day, to be precise) and worrying about what Huxley, their 75-lb puppy, would do to Willow if they were cooped up together for four days.... well, though Corey was missed, and in a perfect world everything would have worked so that he could have been here too, it was probably for the best that he's in Rochester taking care of their assorted animals. We had a good time staying with Kim & Corey in Rochester (they bought a house together this spring). Like us, their idea of a good time is sitting home reading with their cats and dog. (Ok, we don't have a dog, but you get the idea.) We also got to visit with Mel's grandparents Al & Helen (Steve's parents), who have moved back to Minnesota from California.

We came up to the cabin on Friday. We were going to drive up to the cabin on Thursday, but when we woke up it was snowing, and it did not stop all day. (This is the same storm that dumped a foot on Connecticut and the rest of the East Coast a few days later.) By the time we'd arrived, Rochester had already received quite a bit of snow; this just piled on top and got even deeper. This has been something very close to the snowiest December on record for Minnesota! I think Rochester was closing in on three feet of snow for the month. Think about that for a bit and shiver....

So I got to do a bit of snow driving around Rochester, and we had many walks in the snow. (Huxley is a BIG fan of snow, let me tell you! I repeat - SEVENTY-FIVE-POUND PUPPY.) Mel and I are in firm agreement that snow is a wonderful thing and a major lack from Seattle's otherwise quite desirable climate. It was a wonderful snowfall; hardly any wind, just an endless, soft, floating down of flakes. Sometimes it was thick enough that you could barely see more than a quarter mile or so, other times the flakes were so small you might miss them if you just glanced out the window. But they kept falling and falling!

Melissa and I borrowed Kimmy's car to go cruise around her home town and to buy boots (having discovered that our Birkenstocks were NOT up to the task of plodding through several inches of new-fallen snow) and after each stop we had to sweep an inch or so off the car before we could proceed.

Anyway, we left Rochester on Friday instead; after around three or four hours on the road upon arriving at the cabin we were much gratified to see that the drive from the main road to the cabin had been plowed since the big storm; otherwise we would have had to park on the side of the highway and carry our suitcases and five days worth of groceries about a quarter mile through foot-deep snow. As it was, we were able to drive all the way in and just had to slog down the stairs/walkway that lead down the hill from the parking area to the main cabin.

No one had been up at the cabin since Thanksgiving, so it took a few hours (after lighting a roaring fire and cranking up the thermostat from its prior setting of 40) to warm the place up.

The next day, I got a chance to shovel snow for the first time since living at Gus' place in St. Paul. Those steps/walkway took me a few hours to clear out, much to my surprise - I thought it was only an hour. Shoveling snow is serious fun--the first time. I seem to recall the thrill diminishes rapidly for subsequent snows...still, being out in freezing air, shucking off my jacket and hat, and keeping myself warm through just hard work was especially satisfying.

However, this still doesn't capture the feeling of the past several days, and it's just that feeling that I wanted to tell you about. Sitting in silence, looking out the window and seeing the trees covered in snow and the lake frozen solid - a view I thought I was familiar with from being here in previous summers turns out to have a whole other life in the winter. Reading and reading some more, then going out to perhaps walk across the lake, or maybe to walk into the woods a ways, and returning to a cup of hot chocolate and a warm room with family near at hand.... well, words fail.

When I get back to Seattle, I'll put an MP3'd song up on our website with some of the pictures I've taken; you can download the song and listen to it as you look at the pictures. It'll be wholly inadequate, but maybe it's the best I can do to convey to you what it's like here at this time of year, short of extending an invitation.

I wish you could be here! Since you're not, let me say this, and please accept it as heartfelt despite the cliched words: as the new year begins, best wishes from me to you. I'm going to go look at the moonlight on the snow for a while now.


ps: the quote below is quite right. T.J. knew a thing or two, that's for sure....
"A traveler, says I, retired at night to his chamber in an inn, all his effects contained in a single trunk, all his cares circumscribed by the walls of his apartment, unknown to all, unheeded and undisturbed, writes, reads, thinks, sleeps, just in the moments when nature and the movements of his body and mind require. Charmed with the tranquility of his little cell, he finds how few are his real wants, how cheap a thing is happiness, how expensive a one, pride." -- Thomas Jefferson, traveling in Europe, 1784 - online since April 1999
This page updated January 21, 2001

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