Thursday, February 09, 2017


Some small thought propelled me last night to go down to the basement and open up a box that I keep of travel journals.

Between the ages of 10 and about 45 I was a prolific journal writer. But as I neared my 50th birthday, I took all my adult journals and threw them into the garbage bin of the Bagels Forever bakery. I just couldn't stand the idea that those journals -- full of pathos but also half truths -- would someday be read by someone. I hated the indulgent tone, the inability to step back from my own inner turmoil, the emotional tailspin -- all of it. I never regretted getting rid of all that stuff.

But I kept my youthful journals -- they're so funny! -- and I also kept my travel journals. These travel books (and there are dozens of them) are rather factual: I did this, we ate there, she did that and the other did something else.

I don't think I ever reread any of them. They just sat there. Until last night.

The one I reached for is from the year 1984. I was pregnant with my younger girl and my older daughter was just two and ten months (so just a bit older than Snowdrop). We packed our bags and traveled to the UK, as my then husband had research to do in Cambridge.

We lived in England for nearly three months and my daily notes on this are not unlike my travel posts on Ocean, only without the photos and with less careful writing. You could say it was like a practice blog!

What was interesting in the rereading was, of course, the comparison -- of being a mommy then and a grandma now of similarly aged girls. But what I really enjoyed, too, was the description of travel way back then -- without phones (always in search of public booths to make inquiries), without the internet (endless trips to bookstores and to tourist offices to do get information, searching constantly for that elusive decent meal given our tight budget and love of fresh and honest foods, finding miserable b&bs and even worse rental flats because there just wasn't the information that we have now). It was so much harder then and I'd like to say that it didn't matter, that it was all grand, even as I see that it wasn't all grand. The highs were effervescent and rhapsodic. The lows required taking a deep breath and moving forward.

And now here we are, thirty three years later and it's not cold and drizzly (as it seemed to be daily in the summer of 1984 in the UK) but bitter cold and very sunny. I am a bit shocked to see the cheepers out and about. They must be restless!

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Breakfast in the sun room.

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I then take a quick look at the beginning of the construction to the north of us. We cannot figure out why they are taking down the row of trees (toward the left, where you see trucks and stumps), but I suppose developments require pristine land surfaces. Ah well, we're hoping that there'll be a prairie restoration in one of the designated nature spots.

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Noon. I pick up Snowdrop and take her to the bakery again (it's a poor substitute for what she would really love -- a romp outside, but again, it's just too cold!). She is, in fact, thrilled with her cheesy croissant.

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I mean, really -- yum!

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At home, she brings a toy croissant for ahah, possibly because we didn't bring any of the real thing back with us.

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And then she draws with him. At the table...

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... on the floor.

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And eventually she returns to her play foods, today doing her favorite pretend game: cooking at her little stove and "chatting" on the phone (which she improvises with the TV remote control).

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Evening. She wakes up from nap, I bring her downstairs. Ed is sprawled out on the floor. She's puzzled, but only a little. Ed is an unpredictable player in the farmette deck of cards.
I explain: he's stretching his back. (He played volley ball last night. Uff!)
Snowdrop wiggles out of my grasp: I stretch my back too! -- she tells me.

(Snowdrop, stretching her back.)

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It looks to me like you want to do yoga. (Snowdrop has a yoga lesson in school each week I've told.) Do you want me to roll out my yoga mat?

I don't really know what yoga she does in school, but there's an old reliable pose that you can always ask her to do and she'll get right to it.

(Snowdrop does "downward dog.")

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She remembers, however, that I promised the guitar after her nap. I bring it to her.

(Snowdrop, yoga mat, and guitar.)

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(Can you do downward dog with guitar on yoga mat at age two? You bet!)

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(Showing off poses that I have never seen or heard of.)

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(That ever recurring smile!)

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Oh life... How we love it when there are reasons to share a smile!