best. mudseason. ever

on the first morning that the driveway was more mud and slush and less snow, i drove to Denver. i left early enough to drive while the mud was still frozen. i missed the first ten days of official mudseason.

on my drive home from Denver, DW called to warn me about a few sections of road on the way home. he told me i’d be fine if i just picked a line and floored it. so i did. i was grinsmilelaughing alone in the Subaru as i pinged and ponged and bounced the final few miles in the slush and the mud to my home-sweet-home. it was such a million miles away from the suburbs of DC and Baltimore and Denver and Boulder where i had been spending my recent days.

it was a quick minute to re-home the house that ran without me for a bit, and pack up for spring break. Mud Season Escape #2.

We left on a Monday and came back on a Friday. We spent the week in Fruita. with Mungbean and Parker and Jennie and Catherine. Single-mom camping with super happy kids. peeps and i shared a tent, and read together every night. we love lumped in a mound of down on the cold mornings and had breakfast fires. first bike laps of the season. and laps and laps and laps and laps. feasts every night. and campfire chat after bedtime.

Mungbean and i made a pact many years ago that we would ALWAYS road trip together to the desert. we’ve done a mighty fine job of honoring that commitment. it may not be annual, and it may look a whole lotta different now than it did then. but we keep showing up. we continue to check out to check in. we like it best in the desert sunshine and heat. we were mostly in hoodies and puffies.

After Fruita, we were in the thick of the Mud Season. We had two weeks to go before our final trip. so i looked for merits. turns out, merits are never tough to find if you just start paying attention. our Easter ski-mountaineer elk antler hunt adventure still has me shaking my head. our first family day of single track and adventure cycling. several grizzly bear sightings. using the skate skis for the first time in 6 years. moose hanging back out in the willows. birds showing up. creek opening up and changing minute by minute. the road and the driveway wavered between awful and worse than awful. it was only two weeks. and i didn’t go to town much.

the trip to the Carolinas was the icing on the cake of Operation Opt Out of Mud Season. Escape #3. i packed for warmth and sunshine. what mother nature could not provide, we found inside the arms and the company of friends that i love. the homies were sick from the get go. like for reals miserably sick. high fevers. terrible cough that kept them up at night. and they were at someone else’s house. so hard to be sick when you don’t get your own space to recover in. or even be sick in. they were real troopers. they made the best of it and had fun during all the outings. they took naps most afternoons and rallied to party each night. with different people. they only knew Mungbean and Barry and Parker ahead of time. and the Goodfellow clan. they met 15 children in the course of our stay. and Crit could tell you all their names but one. they also met 24 new adults. that’s how many people i hugged in the Carolinas. that’s why although we rarely took our hoodies off, it still felt like a burst of sunshine. the flowers were in bloom and the jasmine was fragrant. the shells on the beach kept us busy. we spent a morning downtown and walked from the Battery through the Market and waterfront park. we scampered around Fort Moultrie. we ate shrimp and scallops and grouper. and we flew kites.

i’ve been in a constant state of grin since i shoveled off the pond in December.

we returned on a Tuesday and GET THIS! the road to home-sweet-home is dry as a bone! there was nothing to brace for. no fingers to cross or breath to hold. just an easy peasy bumpy ride home. we did it. we escaped the misery of the only season i do not love at the Moose Willow.

now we have spring fever. the cranes are back. they are one of my favorite pieces to spring out here. the snipe sound off at twighlight. the moose are traveling back and forth across my kitchen window. the picnic table is cleared off. we planted seeds inside and i’ve been raking the yards. its time to move the stones and split the wood. new tracks show up each morning. moose, elk, bear, coyote, wolves, deer, fox, pronghorn….all along the road to town. the moon is full tonight.

it is four years this week since we moved out to the edge of the wilderness. what it looks like and feels like outside right now is quite like the week that we moved in. with babies. with a 1 and a 2 year old. one still in diapers. Deep Woods and La Madre and Hardscrabble held hands and marched through any fear with their hearts leading the way. lofted by heaps of optimism, a healthy dose of idealism, no connection to realism, and a hefty shake of hope and faith. the path lit up. we merrily stepped. we have learned. we keep learning. every year is different. every season is different. but we caught on. we are catching on. and so our the peeps. when we travel around the country to hug people we love and share our time and space together, we share our stories. it is only then that i realize quite clearly how extraordinary this experience is. i never take it for granted. i wrap the opportunity in a safe embrace of gratitude – daily. but i do take it for normal. and it is not. (is there such a thing as extranormal?)

Operation Opt Out was a smashing success. next year we will go back to our regular schedule of solo-adventuring weeks we gift each other each April. i will travel off in search of sunshine and bike riding, and Deep Woods will head to the hills to hunt turkeys. we will camp and pack our coolers and get spotty reception wherever we land. it will go back to our normal and it will be terrific. for this season though, i’m glad for the sacrifice to have spent time together in real springtime, share some history, and create some fresh new memories. what i learned the most in four years is that i really dislike April…and half of March. and this year…crushed it.

IMG_4211