So far this January we have been blessed, and I use this in my case only, with unusually mild weather for winter in Michigan. I know a brown Christmas wasn't on every one's top ten list and especially those who came to Michigan from out of state, hoping for that powdered sugar white of Christmases past, but it didn't bother me and I have been trying to enjoy each day of sunshine and over 40 degree temps to their fullest, as it is January and things will change.
It is normal at this time of year to start dreaming of warmer climates for some time during our endless winters. I have concluded it isn't the cold nearly as much as the dark, day coming late and night coming at dinner time. Combined with the cold, especially last year's bitter long weeks of cold and snow, and I have wont to snuggle down under an electric blanket and not put my head out until well after Easter....The older I become, the less I am enthralled with Michigan winters. Sacreligious, I would have shouted a decade ago, if I didn't have snow. But much has changed in my life and I have succumbed to not missing winter all that much. And though I swore I would never be a snowbird, travel in the winter does entice me, more and more. For now I just look with relish to a week in a warmer climb, but I also dream more and more of a month or more in a warmer area. I don't think I need Florida for that month, but I would just like to visit warmer areas where the foibles of severe winter weather won't stop my getting out and exploring.
Growing up on a farm, many would think we seldom ventured far from home. And perhaps left to my dad's decisions, it would have been the summer weekend at my grandparent's cottage, but my mom had traveled with my grandparents growing up and while that may have ultimately skewed her views of long trips, anywhere, she did travel with my dad and all of us went on travel vacations at least a half dozen times in my growing up. We went to see my uncle get married in Wisconsin when I was in the 6th grade, and went into Wisconsin through the Upper Peninsula on the way in and down around Chicago on the way home. When I was just in high school we went to Gettysburg and Washington DC, culminating in a long drive to Williamsburg and then a longer drive home. Those trips stuck with me and when we had our own children we tried to take trips every couple of years out of state but close enough to make driving something that would not send Mom and Dad over the edge.
While not always stress free, they were always memorable, at least from my perspective, now years later. Not sure what my kids would say. We have been to Washington DC and over to the Virginia shores area with the kids. We have gone to Gatlinburg for an Easter break and had wonderful warm weather, and many things that impressed Mom and Dad, but not so much our kids. We flew to Florida to stay with my grandparents in their winter home and had a delightful, simple time then rented a car and drove to Disney World for the last four days of our trip. After a Saturday of crowds, lines and cranky kids we figured out to let the kids swim and play in the hotel pool until mid afternoon and then eat an early dinner and go into the park. Many of the young children rides were clearing out and we came home as the park was closing and plopped very tired kids in bed. When the kids were older, sports started to take precedence over longer trips and summers were devoted to sports clubs and leagues, and travel was weekend tournaments.
There was a trip to New York City for Annie and her cousin in December that my sister in law and I barged in on. New York was as impressive as I had ever heard, but the memory I took back was the Radio City Rockettes and what that wonderful place was like at Christmas time. Street pedlars, Macy's, and Times Square. A very expensive piece of Lindy's famous cheesecake. I also chaperoned a softball club's trip to Oklahoma City to play in the college softball world series stadium. Impressive but even more impressive was the memorial to the Edward P Murrah building, the lighted chairs for all the victims of that bombing and black day in our history. It was something I will never forget.
In 2007, Kurt and I traveled to Paris to visit our son and daughter in law who were living there. I had heard so many stories of Paris and of course was excited to see all the well known landmarks, but first I fell in love with the kid's neighborhood. They lived in the Marin section of Paris and it was enchanting. We happened to have had wonderful sunny, balmy weather, perfect for outdoor cafes, smelling fresh baked baquettes every morning, and window shopping all manner of everything in the little stores. We saw Paris, but it was those glimpses of the neighborhoods that truly won my heart. We traveled for a ten trip to Italy, starting with Venice and ending in Roma... The kids went along. We stayed in a small apartment in Venice. It bordered a narrow alley of cobblestone that was the direct route to the water taxi stop behind the building. Venice was enchantment at every turn and crowds but I remember best the footsteps of the commuters every morning waking us, the harlequin mask shop just down from our apartment and the piazza where the locals met to await the school children in the afternoons and talk and visit while the chidlren played kickball and jump rope. I wanted to do nothing but just sit and absorb those wonderful every day slices of Venetian life.
Roma was historic and awe inspiring as so much that is the roots of Christianity is there. The basilicas, the duomo's and the cathedrals left one breathless. We spent our last wonderful nights returning to the Coliseum again and again as a half moon rose over it and it fairly shouted with the ghosts of all that went on there. To be rooted in such history was something so precious.
Two years ago we flew to London to once again visit where the kids were living. And again a city of such history was enticing. We logged, I don't know how many foot miles. We saw Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, and my favorite, the Tower of London. We walked the amazing parks in London which were unlike anything I have seen here. The spring flowers bloomed before our very eyes, and such a respite from the busy London life. A trip to Edinburgh gave glimpses of the spartan lives of the Scots to the north and how mists and moors bespoke what the Clans were all about. I have wonderful memories of Europe and feel privileged and blessed that I could see things I only dreamed about. Traveling has always been money well spent to me. I have never begrudged one dollar that I spent seeing something that has enriched my life. But I have come to find that travel can be as intricate as flying to New Zealand, or riding a bike down a never before traveled road. I have enjoyed visiting Nashville, not so much for all the entertainment it has to offer, but for the fact, my daughter is there, and the streets of her neighborhood draw me to walk around and explore. I would tire of just walking the neighborhood and my daughter, Annie would tire of me hanging around, but it is a place that makes me smile with anticipated next visits.
I may not travel to all the places I have seen in pictures and that's OK, as long as I do not lose the urge to explore no matter how far or near. Yesterday on a sunny, winter day that saw temps just below 40 degrees, we took the dogs for a walk to a game refuge not far from our house. It looked vastly different than the summer months, but was quiet and unique in things to look for. On the way home we drove down a road that I had not been down in 20 years or more, a mere five miles from my house. I looked at the houses and the farms in winter, uncovered by a snow less winter and clarified by leafless trees, and vowed to come this way again, soon. I will still do some January dreaming and hope that next year I might actually do that exploration in the warmer climates at least for a short time, but for now, I'll just enjoy the day I have. Its good to be here...