Uff da this is a bit of a long post, but it's to be expected, since it's about my home and something I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about.
Why do we visit places?
For various reasons, of course, but simplistically, trips and vacations and traveling serve one of two goals: To see something we've never laid eyes on before and interact with it, or as a return to something familiar.
When we're returning to a place after having been away, its visiting people and places we care about, but it's also a bit of checking to see how closely our memories align with what is actually in front of us. To see how people have changed, or they haven't. To see how we feel about all of it.
Visiting MN (and Ohio last week) were such refreshing trips because they really speak to the latter motivation of travel—to revisit something familiar. And in both cases, I find that I love each person, place, smell, scene as much or far more than my previous experience. With each return visit, I see more, with fresher eyes from having been away.
On this most recent trip to Minnesota, I cherished each hug from my parents and friends I've been friends with for more than two decades(!) because in a lot of ways we have changed. We've all grown and seen challenging stuff (and currently face a lot of it) and yet with each passing year, we see God's goodness more clearly, I think.
I see His goodness in the snuggles and giggles of my friends' sweet almost-one-year-old. I see His goodness in the way the pines smell as we rode our bikes through the trees. I see His goodness in morning fog and how the crickets sung after dark when we took the dog for a walk. I see His goodness in a bird's eye view of countless Twin Cities lakes as I flew in. I see His goodness in how He comforts us with the familiar and sanctifies us (and stimulates growth!) with the hard and the new.
It's visits like these, the kind where I tear up on the plane because it's just so good to be there, the kind that leave me with a full, grateful heart, ever more sure of the character of the One we call Father. Ever more sure that this life He's given me is exactly the one He intended me to have.
I flew in on Sunday, occupying myself on the plane with Manchester Orchestra's new album and my Glacier Park cowl. My parents picked me up from the airport, and we stopped at Northern Coffee Works for coffee and a late lunch in the modern/nordic setting. When we got home, we toured the yard, walking past the hydrangeas planted the summer we got married, now more than four feet tall and blooming, to the back yard and the raspberry bushes. My dad asked my mom beforehand not to pick all of them so there would be some left for me to each right off the bush.
We went for a pre-dinner bike ride, winding through the neighborhood and past familiar parks and my elementary school, to the tree we called the "Go, Dog. Go tree" and a tree-lined path, then to another bike path loop. A delightful mix of temps in the 60's, my first mosquito bites of the year, and air I couldn't get enough of because it smelled so good.
My dad grilled chicken for supper and we had a quiet evening revisiting all the new things and catching up. The next morning, my dad had to work, so my mom and I had breakfast of eggs, apples, gf orange poppyseed muffins, and coffee and then settled in for some sewing, specifically, making pillowcases to match the quilt my mom made for us a few Christmases ago—all french seams, no raw edges. She sewed, I pressed, and I dug out my beading supplies to make a few pretty zipper pulls for her sewing pouches. We burned a fall candle and looked through her fabric collection and talked about future projects. We took a break for the best lunch with iced tea, grapes, and roasted acorn squash (my mom always makes it when I'm in town since we both love it) with garlic powder, nutmeg, butter, filled with sauteéd mushrooms and sharp white cheddar cheese.
That afternoon, we visited a local yarn shop to pick out my yarn-y birthday present from my parents and my Grandma Donna (thank you!), a sweaters quantity of worsted weight wool in olive.
My parents had bible study that night and while they were away, I met up with my friend Lauren for milkshakes from DQ and a truly timely and encouraging catch-up about about sanctification and dwelling in, and being contented in where God has us right now. We went to her parents house for decaf coffee and to see her family for the first time in over a year, which just so good! Lauren drove me home as she had countless times in high school, the same route we always took, but this time with different conversation topics of 25- and 26-year-olds, not 16-year-olds, and an evermore grateful heart.
The next morning, I left early for a foggy morning drive for breakfast with my friend Kyra and to meet her and her husband's little boy who was born on my birthday almost a year ago! It was a morning of snuggles with baby Malachi, picking up right where we left off, talking about motherhood for her and God's faithfulness, and catching up with her sister Tahnee like no time had passed at all.
I rejoined my parents at home and we headed out for lunch at a Scandinavian cafe, and of course, Norwegian almond kringlers for dessert. Then we drove to Stillwater to visit an apple orchard and the scents, the sun, and all those apples. It felt like summer but looked like fall. Here we are, right there in the transition.
We finished out the day with a hike on the Gateway trail, a dinner of smoothies, and baking a batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies I'd promised to my dad a few Christmases ago.
We looked through the family heirloom box, which was fascinating. Some contents, for example: Old WWII rations housed in a vintage Tums package, my mom's baby booties and a hand knit baby hat, her baby picture album, the box of a cross stitch kit with the mantra: First the toast, then the roast, happy hostess, happy host, a letter my grandpa Gale wrote to his mom on mother's day when he was in the service, hand-embroidered handkerchiefs my mom used as a child, and a book of quotes and magazine clippings my mom made for her grandma.
My other favorite little tidbits from this trip:
- pilots who say "bag" the familiar (Minnesotan) way
- noticing all the little details of my parents' home: drying hydrangeas, quilts in nearly every room, stacks of library books, houseplants, embroidered textiles great-grandmas made, a nightstand full of my childhood diaries.
- snuggles with my parents' dogs, Hazel and Gingersnaps
- my old, (now extra-cozy) room with a quilt my mom recently finished
- rewriting recipes onto recipe cards, talking about "collecting handwriting" and how sweet it is to know someone by their penmanship
- Gingersnaps sleeping on my bed every night
- seeing Norwegian wedding cakes at Taste of Scandinavia
- mums and apple cider and local, scented candles in a historic barn.
- speed limit signs that make you smile
- a soy candle and hand knit dishcloth from my mom (the candle is burning right now)
It was a full and incredibly sweet visit. It so timely for me to revisit a familiar place, and cross-check my heart with familiar things and people I love after a year of growth, both with hard and good things. In those moments, the truth that God is such a good Father really resonates. To quote one of the sayings in the little book my mom made for her grandma, "The brook would lose its song if you removed the rocks." Praise God for the rocks, and ears to hear the song He makes with them.
Until next time, Minnesota.
Fall feels like a number of transitions, one right after the other. We are now bridging into late fall, with lots of frost in the mornings, first sightings of bare trees, and darker, cozier evenings at home. Of course, there is talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas on the horizon too, along with early preparations for those. I do tend to be swept by the momentum of this season, if I'm not careful. I'll admit that Christmas music accompanies us throughout the day sometimes, and I've already done most of our shopping, but I do want to be intentional to savor the almost-but-not-yet. To not wish away November and it's baring of trees in favor of the glow of Thanksgiving and Christmastime. There is great beauty and contentment in this month, as well. I don't want to miss it.
We've taken to a regular "cozy hike," as we've termed it. A nearly wooded path, my favorite spot for fall color, a wagon, an eager toddler, a cozy blanket, and snacks. I look for the bright red leaves, since those are a favorite for both of us. And we also look for acorns and pinecones, treasures on the ground.
I'm typically in a rush to wish away the hot days of summer, to exchange them for cozy days, sweater season, cool mornings. I'm an optimist, and that optimism frequently couples itself with being future minded. Constantly looking forward with hope, but also sometimes looking forward with misplaced longing that can inhibit me from being present. But this past weekend, the events of both days were lovely, and being present felt easy and good.