Late winter: Patience, healing and planning

Our last post came out during the beauty of October, when we were putting our time and energy into taking care of our aged dog, Finn. Of course, living in Minnesota, we also were on the verge of winter and ignorant of how it would go (it has been a doozy.)

Sadly, we report that our beloved Finn left us on December 3, at age 15 years and 3 months. The house is really different without him and we still wake in the morning ready to get him outside and feed him. Instead of having him at my feet, I now have a wooden box behind me with his ashes. We plan to spread them this summer at Lisa’s family cabin up in Becker County, undoubtedly Finn’s favorite place – where he loved to run in the woods and swim in the lake all day (starting at 5:30 AM, if we’d let him.)

Finn (portrait by Sara J Anderson)

We purchased a used Peloton cycle in November and both quickly became obsessed citizens of Peloton nation – really loving the workouts and happy that we can continue to bike all winter in the comfort of our basement.

December was stormy and snowy – leading us into what is now a top ten snowiest winter in Minnesota history (so far, with more snow forecast for this week.) The weather was so bad around the holidays that many of our plans were cancelled, and it turned out to be a quiet and peaceful season.

This one was pretty cold earlier this winter. We haven’t seen him/her since we got a heavy snow last week, but I know he/she is cozy under there and probably making the family bigger.

I had made plans for surgery at the end of January to fix my right great toe – it was bending over to the outside due to arthritis. The recovery time for a surgery like this is quite long, as you are supposed to stay off the foot for around 8 weeks. Since I knew that long period of inactivity was coming, I tried to get all my winter sports in before the surgery – skiing, skating, sledding and hiking.

We hit 24 mph going down this hill on a plastic sled
Skating in circles

In mid-January, we spent 9 days in Joshua Tree, California, in a nice little house next to Joshua Tree National Park. We hiked every day in the park, and loved the desert landscape, the cactus and Joshua Trees, and the glorious stars, viewed from the hot tub every night.

The snow covered San Bernadino Mountains in the background

In front of the heart rock, Joshua Tree National Park

Just after we returned, I had the surgery and began the recovery. I’m now 7 weeks into it and things are going pretty well. I am wearing a large boot on my right foot, and can hobble around with my weight on my heel. The doctor gave me permission last week to start riding our Peloton (with the boot), so that has really helped my spirits. I guess I’m not that good at waiting – for my foot to heal and get strong again, for the snow to melt, the sun to heat my skin, for anticipated travel.

Still, now that it is March, and in spite of our heavy snow cover, we are starting to see signs that winter is winding down. The days have gotten longer by quite a bit since December and the sun seems to have more power, melting the snow even when it is below freezing. The people who make maple syrup are preparing for the sap to run. And I can only imagine what the yard’s rabbits are doing in their nests under the snow (which is deep after last week’s additional 12 inches.)

Lisa at Minneapolis’ Luminary Loppet

Being laid up has given me time to think about upcoming adventures, which will begin almost as soon as I can return to normal activity. First up, a trip to Greece in late April – visiting and hiking in Crete, Santorini and Milos, followed by a few days in Amsterdam (where I hope we can do a little biking.) Neither of us has ever visited Greece and we are traveling with a few friends and are all doing a lot of reading in preparation. (I just finished The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller – “Everywhere you go in Greece the atmosphere is pregnant with heroic deeds.”)

Shortly after returning, we will ride South Dakota’s Mickelson Trail through the Black Hills with our friends Paul and Cindy. We’d postponed the trip from last fall, when we stayed home to provide hospice care for Finn. We are scheduling that bike trip for late May. We will do the 110 mile trail south to north and back to the start again, making it a 220 mile, four day trip. The weather in the Black Hills in late May can be unpredictable, and as we’ll be at over 6,000 feet elevation, we will likely see some (more) snow.

We’ve also registered for a late summer ride – Bicycling Around Minnesota (BAM), taking place in August in the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota. That one will also be beautiful (and warm.) And a couple other day trips, including the Tour de Pepin, a 75 mile trip around Lake Pepin (a wide spot in the Mississippi River south of here.)

The spring and summer months are taking shape, giving us new experiences to think about as we wait for fine weather, as we look out on piles and piles of snow, which seem like they’ll never melt. They will.

Paper whites in the kitchen

6 thoughts on “Late winter: Patience, healing and planning

  1. I always look forward to your posts, Dan. You write very well and provide such interesting details. Thank you very much, and much sympathy on the loss of Finn.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If you look at the trees, you’ll see the little nodes pushing out of the branches, the first sign of buds. They make my heart surge. I’ve also noticed the return of some birds, including what seemed to be a catbird the other morning.

    Frances is in the Copper Canyon in Mexico and decided, on a lark, to run the half marathon in the Caballo Blanco. We will have to get everyone together when she returns. Glad you are on the mend and making plans.

    John and I send love to you and Lisa.


    • Didn’t you bring Larkin’s “The Trees” to my attention recently? It is in front of me at my desk these days. “Last year is dead, they seem to say,/Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.”


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