Room, Or No?

The year I got married, my husband’s mom told me she’d read that the Christmas season brings thirty-nine additional items to a woman’s already overflowing to-do list. At the time I thought the number seemed a wee bit overstated but with age and experience, I’ve learned that the exact number doesn’t matter. Whatever it is, it’s enough. More than enough. We address cards and clean houses. We go to programs and the post office. We buy and we bake.  We decorate. We deliver. In no time, the pages of our calendars are crammed with concerts and gatherings. There’s no room {Continue Reading}

Roads in Transition

The sun dawned in the steely sky and peeked through trees veiled by the falling snow. It had begun the night before and lingered, fine and heavy, through the day. “It’s slick,” my son told me when he returned from his mid-day Calc class. I must have looked concerned because he amended his statement. “The roads were fine. It’s the parking lot that was bad.” Of course, the roads were in better shape than the parking lot—the DOT turns the crews loose before the first flake hits the ground. They work to keep the roads neat and tidy, safe surfaces {Continue Reading}


Once in a while, we encounter the remains of a colossal tree on the trail. Sometimes we find an immense trunk laying on the ground rather than stretched to the sky. Usually, though, it’s a remnant of a root system tipped into the air that gets our attention. We always stop when we see a tangled mass that once anchored a tree. They’re beautiful, but not in the traditional way. They’re gnarled and convoluted, but they’re strong. They’re huge so they can hold a tree fast in the face of intense mountain weather. They make me consider the condition of my own roots. {Continue Reading}

Before It Blows Away

  The screen door crashed and muted footfalls raced across the carpet. “Come outside and look at the sky before it blows away!” called my littlest girl. “Before what blows away?” “The sky, it’s beautiful! But the clouds are moving really fast. I’m afraid you’ll miss it if you don’t come now, before the clouds blow away.” I sighed.  What I really wanted to do was finish the dishes, but I dried my hands and followed my husband out the front door and up the driveway where we took our place behind our daughter. She gazed up at an impressionist’s {Continue Reading}

Rest Area Closed

Two years ago my family, parents, brother and sister-in-law, nephew and niece, along with the ones who live in my house–the whole tribe—made the drive to our current summer gathering place: Campfire Bay in Minnesota. That was the year that the Minnesota government shut down while it wrangled over the budget. Minnesota itself remained open, of course, but the interstate rest areas were closed. We didn’t suffer too much. The gas stations and fast food restaurants along the way filled the gap and provided us and the other interstate travelers a place to stop for a restroom, a drink, or {Continue Reading}

The Road Ahead: October

My oldest childrenwere six and three when Jonah—A Veggie Tales Movie came out. When we went to see it, they hopped down the street toward the theater with glee. All their favorites were on the big screen: Bob the Tomato, Larry the Cucumber, Junior Asparagus, and Archibald the, well, we never did decide what Archibald was, but he played Jonah. The movie featured a new character, a decidedly non-vegetable named Khalil, a little guy who struggled to find his own road and turned to motivational tapes to help him find it–tapes which featured a soothing voice that told him useful bits {Continue Reading}

The Intruder

A low rumble of a growl, that’s how it started. Our first camping trip found us buried further down a country road than I had ever traveled, stuck on one of those rural grassy drives between dusty gravel and green pasture. The little red Plymouth Sundance that I brought into our marriage lost the battle with the deep ruts that passed for a driveway. My husband’s manly Jeep from antiquity would have prevailed, but we wouldn’t have been able to hold a conversation during the drive. So there we were, in my vehicle instead of his—a vehicle stranded with its {Continue Reading}

The Road Ahead: September

One Sunday I walked out of church into the late morning sun and noticed a friend’s sweet daughter prancing around near the street. She skipped right over to me when I called to her.  I got down on one knee so that we could see each other’s faces and we talked about the dangers of the street. At the end of our conversation, she looked at me with big eyes and said, “I like your mouth.” Um, what were we talking about again? Neither of us knew. Distraction is sneaky that way. As we enter this season of school and sports and {Continue Reading}

Warning Signs

Some summers my nephew and niece visit us. The kids picnic and put on puppet shows; they fish and swim and sleep outside and get bit up. They stay busy–all on their own–and they love it. One year, my daughter was recovering from a cracked elbow. She had a doctor’s appointment so I planned to take them all for some fun along the way. We would stop at the lake and climb the water tower-turned-observation-deck. They would be, I knew, delighted. They were not delighted; they were busy making their own fun in the pond and groaned a few complaints when {Continue Reading}