Exactly As It Should Be

I’ve always felt a strong connection to and curiosity for the natural world. That probably does not come as a surprise based on the little adventures with my family that I share here. Perhaps it’s the coming to the end of the long winter or maybe it’s just been the act of getting out everyday to walk the dog, but it’s felt as though my eyes have been opened to the fact that that connection had been weakened. It’s always been a kind of spiritual thing for me. To go out into the world — to have the luxury to just listen, to see the minutia that make up this big beautiful place, to feel the cold wind bite my nose or the rough tree bark under my fingertips or the sun on my shoulders — it builds something important in my soul, something that needs to be there.

We’ve always taken our kids out with us and that really changes the experience. There are moments like this…

IMG_8275… that are absolutely priceless. This photo of my babies sits on my nightstand because I simply want to remember that moment, everyday, forever. Introducing children to the outdoors, there is so much time spent re-learning… well, so much. And there is little to compare what it’s like to see the wonder in your child’s eye as they catch frogs or see a racoon hidden up in a nest. There are the hilarious moments — usually involving water — when one child cartwheels out of a canoe (in a life vest, going very slowly) or the other falls into a river and gets her shoe stuck in the muddy river bottom. But the outdoors with kids, it’s also at times challenging. Someone is always tired or cold or hot or hungry. Someone is always talking. It can be very hard to nurse your own personal connection to the world and there are times when it taxes one’s patience. Through the years though we persevered though because we knew it was important to foster our children’s own connection with the natural world.

And then the craziest thing happened. The kids grew up and they love being outdoors. They understand good trail etiquette. They stick together and can run ahead, giving us moments of quiet clarity. They understand that sometimes when we shush them it’s to listen in order to find a bird up in the treetops and they are even interested in looking themselves. They investigate and play with us, but also love time to explore independently. They still need our help and guidance, we still watch them carefully, but we also trust them to understand their limits (to an extent at least, our daughter is still a bit of a daredevil). To see my son on the trail is to see him come alive – confident and strong and adventurous. This is the balance we’ve been waiting for all these years.

Yesterday was a day in which this balance changed the very color of the day. We went back to a family favorite, Parfrey’s Glen, a pretty spectacular gorge in the Baraboo Hills. It is a rocky hike in the summer along a creek complete with little rapids and in the winter, it is a rocky hike with a fair bit of ice that can be quite slick. But unlike the summer, in the winter you run into maybe one or two other groups of hikers there. We pretty much had this little gem to ourselves.

fernAnd we had the time to notice the little things.

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photo by Mr Knitting Sarah

And the kids were great as they stuck together and worked as a team and they had a blast. The air was crisp and just hearing the rushing water beneath the ice was a much appreciated sign of spring — as well as a good opportunity to talk to the kids about ice safety. There’s always a lesson to be learned, isn’t there? And we enjoyed one of the nicest hikes we’ve had as a family. Moving fluidly, spending time with each other together and each individually and even…

little pink… a little time alone.

I have to say, there just aren’t any people on Earth that warm my heart and make me laugh like these three people. It seems that there is little question that the connection to the natural world is intertwined with my connection to them and I think that’s exactly as it should be.

After our little hike we cruised on down to Prairie du Sac to see if we could see some eagles. They usually congregate in numbers just below the dam on the Wisconsin River there. We had a picnic my husband had packed (picnics are my favorite) and afterward the dog went for a swim.

IMG_8272As you can see, the river is pretty open so there were only a couple eagles to be seen. Still a nice spot to stop and have lunch. And it certainly made the dog happy which is only fair since he had to wait dutifully in the car while we hiked as he is not allowed on the trail at Parfrey’s Glen. We bring him along on these trips even if he can’t hike because he seems to prefer riding in the car with us to staying home alone in his kennel. I can’t blame him one bit.

From here, we had a bit of an impulse stop…

wollersheim… at the always beautiful Wollersheim Winery.

IMG_8263We stop maybe every other year on our eagle watching day. I actually don’t think I’ve ever visited this winery not in the winter, but there’s still plenty to see and enjoy.

Usually we pick up a bottle or two and maybe do a quick complimentary tasting. This time, however, my husband convinced me to taste a flight….

red flightI’m definitely not a wine aficionado — like my music, I just like what I like. And I’m actually not much of a drinker at all, but I do like a nice dry red wine once and a while. I had stopped this time with the Beaujolais in mind. It’s a wine that I really like, but don’t always find readily. And the red list had 2 or 3 I hadn’t tried before, so I couldn’t argue with my husband over the tasting.

IMG_8264And the kids enjoyed studying the intricacies of their sparkling grape juice, too. We may or may not have taken a case home. Really, I had to — if you purchased a case you got a “free” bottle of port and my husband loves port. So really, I did it for him.

We listened to more of The Great Brain on the ride home — all quiet and tuckered from a long day. And I knit some more on my Saugerties Shawl.

IMG_8212-1Pardon me re-sharing the same photo from a couple days ago, but I just love this photo — I think it’s just very peaceful and it does capture my mood on the way home. Plus, I didn’t snap one yesterday on the drive back (whoops). I can share that I’ve got about 20″ left to go before beginning the colorwork on the other sleeve though and I’m already more than a little antsy to get there. If I’ve learned anything in this little life though, it’s that a little patience in the moment can go a long way in finding joy, it can even help to see it in the slow or trying moments. And, you know, that’s exactly as it should be.

What a Good Bowl of Soup

I left you yesterday at the end of our wonderful little Door County mini-getaway. Continuing on the little journey that was our hodge-podge of a vacation week last week, Wednesday brought my day working at the local County Fair. As I mentioned, I am so very honored to be asked to judge the 4H kids’ knitting & crocheting projects. I say ‘honored’ because it’s such an exceptional group of young people. I’m always impressed with the raw talent of this new generation of fiber artists as well as their skills not only for following patterns, but solving problems. The work created by these kids is top-knotch so much so that occasionally my main comments are comprised of refining finishing techniques. Many of these kids add their own design elements, modify patterns to their own specifications, and add their own signature to their work. If I judged their work in previous years, they almost always mention the improvements they’ve made based on my advice. And really, that is so rewarding in a way that only teaching can be. To see your guidance come to fruition in an individual’s motivation to better themselves in their craft. This day is always just such a wow for me in that regard — to see that I can add to this group of talented kids is just 100% awesome.

With the judging complete, I awoke on Thursday morning ready for an adventure to a spot we’ve never visited, Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area. I also woke up sick as a dog. My sore throat of the night before had manifested into a full-blown sinus explosion. Remembering the lessons of the Door County adventure and making the best of a situation, I downed some ‘severe cold & flu meds’ — something I almost never do — and carried on.

IMG_6077Pewit’s Nest was amazing. This gorge, or slot canyon, as formed as the last glaciers retreated. The water was rather chilly and with my head really not feeling well, I left hiking in the cold water and shade of the gorge to my husband and the kids while I hiked upstream on land to the other end of the gorge. I watched minnows in the little brook and watched this spot for my family to emerge…

IMG_6085The other end of the gorge. Unfortunately, they never came. They made it all the way to the last little waterfall, but there was no way around the last deep pool other than to swim through it and it was a little too cool of a day for my husband to attempt that on his own with two kids. They hiked back up and around to find me. From there I was spoiled with a picnic in the park (I love picnics to a ridiculous degree) and a quick last minute trip to the International Crane Foundation.

All the cranes were very active — we were told that due to the cool summer thus far, they were still courting their mates. We got to meet this character…

He was very curious about who those quiet people peeking through the fence were. I was moved by how graceful and charismatic he was (and when I say, ‘he’ I have no idea if this was a male or female, but I just can’t call this creature an ‘it’).

Then these guys got all riled up for some unknown reason…

It was pretty incredible to hear though.

IMG_6101And, of course we got to view the captive Whoopers. They are so elegant.

We ended the day with soup.

IMG_6110-0Home-made chicken noodle soup made by my husband just to help me feel a little better. I had had a great day, but boy I felt crummy. We stopped for all the ingredients and he even bought me the rainbow sherbet dessert I was craving.

What a day. What a testament to making the best of a vacation day spent under the weather. What a good bowl of soup. I went to sleep early knowing we had 3 days left of vacation and cold or no cold, they were going to be grand. Of that, I had no doubt!

Yarn for a Snake

I had hoped to complete a more substantial post today, but life happened and the day just got away from me. Instead, I have a single photo for you.

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After a rough day at school, my son asked if today could be the day he picks yarn for his new knitting project. I, of course, obliged – he’s been waiting patiently since Monday evening for us to have time. Once I get the head done for him (he’s not quite ready for increasing & decreasing), he will be knitting a toy snake. I find it pretty sweet that he picked the same colors of his actual pet snake.

So tomorrow, I’m going to finish the post I meant to complete today. I’ll knit a bit on my sock. And hopefully, I will knit a toy snake head.

Life may be busy, but it is never dull.

Love You. Miss You. See You Soon.

My husband & I are rarely separated for more than a few hours. After almost 11years of marriage, I think we both prefer it that way. Once or twice a year, however, it’s necessary for one reason or another to be apart for a couple days. This morning I got a text from the road that read,
“Love you. Miss you. See you soon.”

And then this afternoon, I opened the mailbox and found an unexpected package.

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Love you.
Miss you.
See you soon!

❤️

On the cusp of winter

This weekend we had no shortage of things to do — from dental appointments to birthday parties to trick or treating, to fighting back colds, it was very hectic for us. Thankfully though, we were able to take a little time on Sunday morning to visit our beloved Horicon Marsh. We are past the peak for autumn color, but this may be my favourite time of year. Maybe it’s because this is the time of year my daughter was born & I hold it close to my hear. Maybe I just like being on the cusp of winter. Whatever the case, I found our hike to be exceptionally beautiful and I thought I’d share some photos with you.

20131028-133809.jpgI love the sound of the crisp grasses in the wind and the long views.

20131028-133832.jpgMy husband caught a look at some nuthatches along the trail while the kids & Moose ran ahead…

20131028-133853.jpgAnd I looked up and spotted a jet plane. Whenever I see one I wonder who is on it and where they are going — maybe a little childish, but I can’t help myself. I wonder what they are seeing as they look out their windows.

20131028-133919.jpgThe leaf littered trail was coated in cattail fluff…

20131028-134003.jpgAnd milkweed seeds were going, going…

20131028-134051.jpgGone!

My son & I may have helped a few seeds catch a ride in the breeze — there is always something to explore with the kids outside that they might have forgotten or never seen before. It makes each hike so much fun!

20131028-134107.jpgMy boy & I took this little portrait of us (his is the shoe on the right)…

20131028-133947.jpgWhile the moon peeked at us through the trees…

20131028-134157.jpgAnd a flock of sandhill cranes flew gracefully by.

20131028-134128.jpgOn the way home, I had a little colorful snack. Yum.

When we finally settled in after swimming and trick or treating, I picked up my Deco Cardigan & got serious about working the collar. After all, there is nothing like a chilly hike through late autumn to remind a knitter of the coming need for handknits.

20131027-210817.jpgI bound off this morning & it will be hitting the bath momentarily.  Only the snaps, buttons and ribbons to go then.

So thankful for this day with my family, for finishing another project, and for the ability to move on to another. On the cusp of winter the natural world may be slowing down, but there is still so much to discover each day. And I — and all of us as knitters — have more to do than ever.