My daughter said it perfectly: “Now this is my idea of window shopping!”
This was a much anticipated weekend I had planned for my daughter’s return trip to college after winter break, and I wanted to have some fun with her, so we booked a room for two nights of woman-empowerment, touring the hills and parks, and night time movies. I had projections of Happy Valley covered in snow and the youthful zeal filling the streets of State College, Pennsylvania, with the even more lively resort behavior of a ski lodge hosting an international competition on cable television. I planned this for weeks to become part of the college crowd, another red-cheeked student lugging a heavy backpack, walking through the packs of kids to find a quiet corner and pretend to study, charming dinners at cafes in the alleys, and maybe crash a pregame tailgate party or cultural event. Ahhhh…….fun.
That was the plan.
What really happened? It rained on that day I had envisioned a bonfire and handsome European visitors parading around town, and instead I witnessed many slushy mud puddles and watched fishermen wade icy waters in rubber suits. We had just returned from touring a charming mountainside town, Bellefonte, in Central Pennsylvania. In the rain we walked up and down some streets with steep enough hills to rival San Francisco, and wishing through the windows of shops. She’s a college student, I’m a single mom just trying to get caught up in bills from my 3 year work hiatus, so neither of us had extra play money. We left the shopping district empty handed, but not empty hearted. The afternoon was still wide open.
I swear my daughter and I can both smell and find water everywhere we go and we float right to it like droplets drawn to a bigger puddle. She did get that gene from me. Down a hill at the south base of town flowed a shallow river with some undoubtedly freezing fly-fisherman in rubber suits trying to find the fish. It was near 40 degrees outside and raining, and the men did not seem to care. But the fish did, and they swam mightily upstream towards the dam and away from the lures of death. We decided to not tell the fishermen that the fish were hiding out on the other side of the road and let the fish live.
Alongside the river was a nice park – but it was covered in slush and ice. This silly mom forgot her good-tread warm arctic boots for the trip, so we had to forgo the park. (so much for touring the snowy hills like in my dreams too because I forgot my arctic boots!) The whole time we visited the small city, we spent half of it alongside the river rather than shopping or eating, thanks to a gigantic Belgium waffle with whipped cream and strawberries with a side of sausage.
On the way back to the college town we had passed a road sign for an intriguing town name, or what we thought to be a camp or some sort of state park. Fisherman’s Paradise, PA. It was begging for a visit from two bored women on a rainy day who wanted to wander the countryside, so we made that turn with our ‘innocently lost’ grins on magnified – just in case we wandered (ahem) onto a private road. Oops.
No worries. What is really a tiny hamlet on the bottom of a windy road off Route 26 turned into an afternoon adventure trail that neither one of us wanted to stop exploring. I could feel both of us sigggghhhhh the remaining stresses we may have had that seemed to jump into the shallow creek and we felt at home. Moving water was home for us.
“This is my idea of window shopping!” Because it was raining and cold, we had to enjoy the scenery through car windows, but it was revered much more than our shopping trip in town, as cute as that town was. We are outdoor tomboys and proud of it!
Cottages and cabins lined the pine-heavy windy road along the wide creek and the smell of mountain fresh nostalgia filled the air – burbling water reached my ears and settled my restless spirit. I wanted to find a place to hunker down in and write a novel – and have a cheesy fondue like I planned for dinner that night. This detoxification and dieting was going to be painful when I returned back to real life.
I did get to see a snowy pine ski mountain though. At least, on the way to one of the three parks and lakes we visited that weekend, my daughter showed me where the ‘ski hill’ was located not far out of town on west 322. I had pictured it a little differently in my mountain-getaway dreams, but thankfully the place was hopping with a lot of exciting energy from little kids – and big ‘kids’ like me – learning to ski with red-cheeked smiling faces. I did get my Nordic fix for the weekend.
Later that day when the rain stopped, she almost killed me by leading my very out of shape roundness up a steep hill. That big breakfast still weighed heavy somewhere in my lower hemisphere. At each of the four stops I was forced to do on the trail or hyperventilate, I bent over and admitted to myself I am no spring chicken! And the worst part was that made me hungry – for chicken – after all, it was almost dinner time. It was a defeating moment for me as I saw my daughter waiting impatiently, shaking her head in pity at poor old Mom. This stuff is for the youth here in Happy Valley who regularly walk a mile across campus for classes, then sports, parties and grub within a few hours of each other. I would need a nap in there somewhere, or a Segway – or both.
No more waffles and sausages for awhile for this Mama! No more Crunch Berries or Apple Jacks either. A nice box of organic whole grain oatmeal sat in victorious silence on my kitchen counter at home waiting.
But it was nott about that widow-maker hill and yummy breakfasts. The most basic and important part of the trip was a success – bonding time with my new young- woman daughter, learning about the area, and some laughs. All were plentiful, along with a new waffle-top for Mama to work off on a killer hill near home!
Another reason to stay here – free exercise and ‘window shopping’.
Charles P. Wilson, my Dad, about 18 years old.
My earliest memories were when I was in the hospital, and many of them were actually pleasant memories. I can easily recall my dad (and mom too) visiting me every day, always with a big smile on his face and plenty of hugs and kisses to give, and gifts. He always told me to keep smiling, no matter what happens. Then, when that part of my life was over with, I was lovingly encouraged to walk and live a normal, happy childhood.
As I grew up, my dad and I were always close, and we went everywhere together. He’d take me to pony-rides, lakes, the beach, and many other places. And when I was sick he took me to the five-and-dime for a toy just to cheer me up when I was stuck home. Everywhere I lived there was always a swing in the back yard, a bike, and a puppy. As a teen, he’d get me out of school just to take me to lunch in Cape May, and he trusted me enough to drive his super-truck. We always had the same interests and tastes too. I was very much a daddy’s-little-girl all my life.
He was always very loving, giving hugs and kisses whenever asked for, and not just to me but to any of my cousins and aunts as well. They all have their own special story to tell about Chuckie, and how generous and kind he was to all.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he purposely held on long enough to see his baby granddaughter, Dink. Little Dink had an immediate bond with him, and gave him all the kisses and hugs – and french fries – he wanted, and was often the only one who could make him smile sometimes in the midst of his pain.
(insert baby pic)
The other most important and precious memories I have to keep in my heart are my dad’s little life lessons. Dad always had a smile on his face and said it was important to always be joyful and to Love the Lord, regardless of life circumstances, and to never think a mean thought about anyone else, ever.
My dad left this life with a peaceful heart, and anticipated seeing the Lord Jesus. Nothing in anyone’s life is more precious than peace with the Loving Father in the heart, and the smile that God’s love puts in the eyes and upon the lips for all to see. My dad’s life reflected the Lord’s kindness, generosity, and unconditional love. I am very proud he was my dad, and his legacy will live on forever in all of us that had the privilege of knowing him.
My dad and I, when I was about 16.
That is his legacy! What is yours?
Interview with yours truly……by Marie Gilbert
Now you may understand where it all started! :)
Catching you up…..
I couldn’t have guessed that the setting sun would grab my attention this intensely on this last day of 2010. It isn’t the most beautiful or lingering one tonight. The sun ducks behind approaching rain clouds quickly, forgetting to show off the colors and awes I love to see. I have to stand by the cold front door and remember warmer nights with brightly painted skies by the sea.
But it is only fitting that this is short and steely cold long before the daylight is gone. The year’s last evening didn’t deserve the prettiest sunset. It had been a bleak year and though many wrinkles were worked out over time, it still ended with a lot of uncertainty for the future. It’s been like this for 8 months, with a few varying steep peaks that had to be climbed, leaving me stranded for periods on deserted mesas, and I couldn’t get off and move forward. I was stuck.
In a spiritual sense I know my future is firmly protected and safe within my faith in the Lord but in a physical sense it is a very flat and brown and dry landscape that seems to go on past the horizon line, with only rough and deep seas beyond that.
Yes, the sun will still shine behind the clouds tomorrow, and I know I may have another 365 days to make life worth living somehow. I plan to start it right with visits to family and then a job interview on Monday, with hope of that being the last interview for a long time due to fortunate employment.
As I sip warm wine tonight and watch the crowded Time’s Square ritual on my TV, I ponder why we think that just because a calendar year had ended that we should be acting wild and crazy to celebrate it. Why not celebrate each day like this? A time may come when we wish we could.
Time is seamless to the clock, so shouldn’t my joy and hope be as well? This is definitely something I should work on – my daily reflection of my daily attitudes instead of my annual ones. Time is seamless and eternal from where the Lord sits, so I should spend much more time thinking of what’s ahead and how to be part of that GREAT BIG PLAN HE HAS instead of my measly one that doesn’t go past the horizon line every night at sunset.
Indeed the sun set down on a lousy, short-minded way to view life. I vow to see the sunset in the days ahead as merely rest time from all the neat things I’ll get to do in the future while here and living, and so much more than that when I’m gone.
Now as I look out to the west one last time to see that the sky suddenly lit up with vivid streaks of fuchsia and salmon colors.
Sun sets on a new outlook.
In changing my own outlook and mood, I am immediately and unexpectedly rewarded with a colorful landscape to end this day after all, and more hopeful 365 + tomorrows.
“Weeping may endure for a night,
but rejoicing comes in the morning…” Psalm 30:5b
“Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 2:12c