Holiday greetings from the Northwoods, where we are in the final few-day stretch before Christmas. Yippee that the 25th fell on a Tuesday, which means a four-day weekend! Although a little work will creep in here and there, as well as pet check-ins and plant waterings for some travelling friends, I intend to soak up the holidays beginning now. As I write this the hubs and teenagers are still asleep, I have a hot mug of coffee beside me, as well as a twinkling ten-foot Douglas Fir with all the trimmings. Lynx Lake is frozen over and the evergreens look so pretty tipped with frost. After I wish you all a Merry Christmas I will begin a wrap-a-thon, with several breaks for snacks, movies, the Packers (yes I am still watching) and mistletoe!
Truth be told though, we are all waiting with bated breath for our next good batch of snow in the Northwoods. A cold snap will save us from that Brown Christmas I had to open my big mouth about a few weeks ago, but only by a couple of inches, covered by what feels like another three inches of ice, or frizzle, or whatever they call that stuff. The lack of ‘White Gold’ that is hugely important to the local Northwoods economy means snowmobile trails remain closed for the time being, and that has many locals anxious for snow. Not to mention my 19-year-old son, who bought a new snowmobile this year.
A small town is an amoeba of sorts, the handful of businesses may vary from bank to restaurant to gas station to real estate office to beauty salon, but they all depend in large part upon the other’s success. I rather enjoy getting out and about when it’s unusually quiet in town, instead of when owners and employees are rushed. After a co-workers holiday open house last night, we swung into Skyview with my mom and Bill and enjoyed a toddy or two as well as sampled some of their new appetizers. Supper clubs are always warm and cozy but especially so during the holidays, and a little chat & cheer is always nice, as my Grandma used to say. And hopefully this is the calm before the big storm, as there is snow in the forecast just after Christmas. We’re crossing our fingers that it’s a whopper!
Playing tourist has also been fun with my daughter Estelle, who is home now from her semester away at Conserve School in Land o’ Lakes, WI. She spent four months “very intentionally learning and living” (her words) with 59 other students and an amazing staff on an 1800-acre wilderness campus. Doesn’t that sound incredible? Even when you call the northwoods your backyard, returning from such an experience can be a process, in many ways. My loose ‘rehabilitation back home’ program includes sending her out on long walks with the dog, soup-making 101, real estate field trips with mom, thrifting, and a few days of skiing at Indianhead, where conditions are surprisingly decent thanks to the snow machines.
Estelle returned from Conserve very different and more herself at the same time, if that makes sense. It reminds me of the landscape itself. As the snow, the sun, the wind – and sometimes the ice – move over it, other changes happen that we do not see. The Lynx Lake I know looks so still right now but ice is being made as I type, fish are gathering in groups at the bottom, the frozen trees around the lake are sending sugars and nutrients to their roots. All in tune with the passing of time, which I myself had better start paying attention to – two cups of coffee later and the stack of presents still needs wrapping. The not-so-littles may be up soon, although then again, they may not…ahh to be able to sleep like a teenager, now that’s a winter slumber worth noting! Whether you are here in the Northwoods or far away, I wish you the peace of the woods and a very Merry Christmas, from Almost An Island.