“What season is it?” I always wonder, as we cast off our boots in snowy, Christmasy Colorado and step into sandals for the peculiar white-hot sunshine of Arizona, only an hour and a half away by airplane.
For several years now, both before and after the kids came along, we’ve returned to Arizona in December or January. Depending on the year, we were either between jobs, between school semesters, or in a lull in the work season. So it just made sense to come back and see all the folks back home than sit around!
This year again, the five of us returned, nabbing cheap flights and spending three weeks down in sunny, summery Arizona. We saw all our parents, our brothers, in-laws, nephews, an uncle, and all the extended step-family.
Eight years ago, Big and I were happy to pack up and leave Tucson and our entire home state behind in the dust. But of course, if your loved ones are persistent in living among the saguaros and javalina, then the perfect time to visit Arizona is in winter (meaning the two-month stretch it dips down to a chilly 70 degrees in the daytime — brrr! Bring your jacket).
And we do enjoy the break, the change-up. Maybe even a little too much. Last New Year, I wasn’t sure I wanted to come back to the tiny house at all. The icy Rockies had looked almost menacing in their austerity, causing my heart to sink as we flew toward Denver. But what a year it has been since then. Last holiday feels like a decade ago.
This holiday something else had changed, as well. Somehow, I have a new appreciation for how precious this time was. I can’t quite put my finger on why. But I know that life’s course keeps quickly running on, and these moments of light dancing on the water are brief but brilliant.
This month’s joyful highlights:
I Choose Joy January 2018
- Picturesquely falling snow on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve here at the tiny house.
- Beautiful diamond chip snowflakes everywhere, with individual flakes visible.
- A large, full super moon rising over the pine trees in the darkening evening, and then visible the next morning in the pink sky to the west.
- Firebell: “Put on another song. I’m going to put on my dress and dance in a little bit.”
- Rig and Firebell playing together all day every day. Best buddies!
- Mild weather, Rig chopping wood in the sunshine.
- Hazelnut toddling all over the farm, over little hills, patches of snow, and toward wary cats and chickens that quickly scurry out of her way.
- A smooth flight to Arizona, with the baby sleeping in my lap and the older kids chatting happily.
- Rig learning to play pool with Pappy, standing on a stool and practicing each shot with care.
- A gelato outing with Grammy and the girls. Baby Hazelnut rearranging the metal chairs, and Firebell getting chocolate all over her face.
- A hike through the desert, swinging in the park, sitting around the pool, eating grapefruit, and hours of sandbox fun with the cousins.
- Big, Uncle Dale, and Rig driving up into the desert hills to shoot.
- Seeing photos of our old Europe backpacking trip: fuchsia roses in London, a sailboat on Lake Windermere, a swan on Loch Lomond.
- Delicious seafood lunch with Mamaw and Papaw. Enjoying the splashing fountain and tropical greenery on the beautiful restaurant patio.
- Flip flop weather and cool evening breezes.
- My backpack for the baby while walking to the park, going to the store, running madly through the airport . . . did I mention our plane almost left us in Colorado? What a lifesaver!
- Seeing all our parents and siblings, as well as Big’s uncle and my stepsisters. Lots of laughs and catching up.
- Looking through family genealogies and retelling colorful stories with Mamaw.
- Sitting out on the porch in the evenings talking with Mamaw and Papaw, listening to music, watching the kids run around, zooming baby around in a basket.
- Hazelnut in her new bohemian skirt (made from my beloved old elephant pants)
- Trying out several new healthy meals, including our new favorite, “zoodles.”
- Time in the evenings with just Big Country and me sitting around the kitchen table reading, writing, working, laughing, and drinking coffee.
- Listening to lots of dreaming music: Imagine Dragons, Bastille, Lord Huron, Gunship, as well as old rock, folk, and country ballads from years gone by. We’d better be careful or we might run away to Europe, like we did after listening to too much Arcade Fire seven years ago . . .
- Getting our year’s worth of TV in with a mix of news, nature shows, and Last Man Standing.
- Sweet baby Hazelnut toddling around, pointing, begging to go on barefoot walks or for one more cherry tomato.
- Baby talking all the time now in her sweet little voice. Her words include Dada, Mama, Bubba, deer, and baby.
- Squealing kids jumping on the blowup bed, running laps around the patio, or dancing to the music.
- Papaw’s new Amazon Echo. “Alexa? ALEXA!!!” Need I say more?
- Returning home to the tiny house and snuggling into our loft. Home sweet home!