26 Nov 2007

Winter Wonderland

My parents built their cottage almost 11 years ago, pretty much right after I moved to Canada. Despite the fact that they spent 25 years of marriage talking about getting a cottage, only to build one the second I left the country, I carry no grudge and have been a regular visitor. I am not one to let such insignificant issues such as...eh..5000 km stand in the way.

My visits have been limited to the summer and fall, when the boys' school schedules allow for a trip across the Atlantic. The "hytte" is the perfect place to escape from the heat of a June or July day. The sun barely dips down behind the mountains before it rises again, which may make it hard to sleep, but also promotes fun and games outdoors at all hours of the day - and night.

A September outing is equally thrilling with its crisp air and spectacular glimpses of Mother Nature's full colour palette. A final gala, if you will, before the trees and bushes, the grasses and flowers go to sleep for the winter. Even the sheep seem to sense that they are grazing on borrowed time, and are much braver in their attempts to check out your picnic lunch. Soon they will be rounded up and brought down to the farm.

Until now, these have been my experiences at the cottage, and I've always thought that I was seeing the mountains at their best. I didn't miss not going in the wintertime or even the spring. But today, I'm no longer sure, because this weekend was my first taste of what winter is like at the cottage. And from what I can tell - it tops both summer and fall.

I noticed a difference from the moment we started the 3 hour drive up on Friday afternoon, when a brand new blanket of snow gave the landscape a scrubbed, just cleaned appearance, lined with snow-covered fern trees glistened as if decorated for Christmas. The rivers and lakes had the ice-blue colour of glaciers, with the occasional sparkle of newly-formed ice crystals.

As darkness crept in, the snow lit up our surroundings, like nature's own sunshine. It was pure and untouched, without footsteps and almost void of tire tracks, and none of that ugly black yuck that piles up on the side of the road after too many cars, or too much salting. I imagined we were the only people in a winter wonderland.

My parents were already at the cottage, greeting us with lit lanterns by the doorstep, a roaring fire, and the delicious smell of fresh waffles. Yum. (I have informed my parents that we are now forever spoiled and can never go back to the cottage without someone arriving first to prep and get everything ready. Once you've tried First Class, you can never go back).

The temperature outside was a cool but not ridiculous -5 degrees C. Our bellies full of waffles and hot tea, we bundled up and headed outside. Grabbing a couple of "rumpebrett" (literal translation - "bum trays") on the way, we headed out into the darkness, to hit the tobogganing hill for an hour or two.

It was magical! The sky was clear and the stars overhead seemed so close, I felt like I could reach out and steal one. The largest full moon I have ever seen lit up the horizon like a miniature sun. From our vantage point, there were no electrical lights anywhere, only the gentle light cast by the lanterns outside our cottage in the distance. The soft snowy carpet muffled all noise, except the occasional squeals of delight as we all slid down the hill and ran up again. And again, and again.





After a delicious dinner, we soon tucked a couple of tired boys into bed, still with rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes. It didn't take long before I followed suit. All that fresh air wears you out!

The next day began with an incredible sunrise. Pictures do not do it justice, but here's our best attempt:



Outside was a chilly -12 degrees C when we woke up, but the cottage was nice and toasty with a cosy fire (OK, and the heated floors, too. We are not exactly roughing it). The temperature began to rise as the sky filled with heavy clouds, and though the snow fell slowly at first, majestically and silently, it wasn't long before our cars were covered. It wasn't until the snow began to come down fast and furious that we realized there was only one thing to do:

Bundle, bundle, bundle. Hats, gloves, mitts, scarves, snow pants, coats, extra socks and boots. Phew!

Hot and sweaty, we finally made it out to a winter scape overflowing with opportunities for snowball fights, angel making and general mayhem:







When we were thoroughly soaked and content to take a break from all the goofing around in the snow, Mormor and the boys baked gingerbread cookies and decorated the cottage for Christmas. The rest of us watched skiing on TV, while sipping lovely hot mulled wine with almonds and raisins.

Sunday morning, our final day at the cottage, Mike decided there was just enough snow for the boys to try out their new downhill skis for the first time. He even built a small jump for Christopher. The incline wasn't steep enough to keep the boys' attention for long, which was probably not a bad thing, considering poor Mike had to pull B boy back up the hill each time. Hopefully we'll get an opportunity to try the skis out at a real hill next weekend.




Still, it was a fantastic winter weekend. What I loved most about it was that the focus was on family and playing. And I hope it was only the first of many such weekends to come this year.

58 comments:

Jenn said...

Heavenly.

Breathtaking.

(small twinge of jealousy)

Chantal said...

That sounds so wonderful. I wish we had a getaway like that to escape too (parents and all of course!)

Misty said...

That sounds like at worst, a movie, at best, a story book! Fantasy winter weekend. So glad you are having such a marvelous time!

-M

Kellan said...

You are so lucky - it does sound just magical! It sounded like a story from a fairy tale - so cozy and sweet and beautiful. I'm glad you getting to enjoy this time with your family at such a special place. Take care. Kellan

Kellan said...

Hey - BTW, dancing was good!! We needed time away from the kids and spent Friday evening with friends and it was nice. Thanks for asking. See ya.

Mountain Dweller said...

Great post, beautifully written - I felt like I was there with you. Lucky you!

Mrs. G. said...

Heidi, what do you say we switch lives for a while? What a fantastic post. You have such a gift at setting a scene and filling it with delicious details. Seriously, though, let's switch lives for a week.

Love those pink kid cheeks.

Kyla said...

Oh God, I'm jealous. So jealous!!

LoriD said...

Can I come? Your writing makes the experience so real and vivid. I think I can actually smell the waffles. Mmmm.

hokgardner said...

May I come visit, please? The weekend sounds heavenly.

We're in the process of getting our weekend getaway, but since we're in Texas, it'll be at the lake. We head up to the property most weekends during the summer to swim and laze about. I can't wait until there's an actual house there.

Then everyone will be welcome to hang out at the lake!

girlymom said...

What great expressions on the kids and beautiful pics!

Julie Pippert said...

Wow. Wow.

Color me green. That's spelled J E A L O U S.

Julie
Using My Words

the dragonfly said...

You have painted a *beautiful* picture!! I'm jealous, but I'm glad you shared. :)

Rimarama said...

Another spectacular weekend for the Viking family! Sounds absolutely perfect.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

I love that the word is "bum trays" !

Pink cheeks of happy, playing children makes the nicest contrast to the white of the snow.

Candy said...

Good heavens, is anything cuter than a pink-cheeked boy on a cold winter day?

What a terrific place! Take me!!

Kathryn said...

That sounds like heaven. What a perfect trip. The pictures are gorgeous! These are the kind of trips my husband and I are so looking forward to as the boys get older. Hubby's parents have a cabin in the northwoods very close to ski hills, and the way you describe the weather, cabin, scenery reminds me of it. We love it there. Although we have no mountains to speak of, they do have 40 acres of forest behind the cabin. It is wonderful.
I'm glad you had such a fabulous time with your lucky boys. A time I'm sure they will always remember.

thirtysomething said...

Would it be rude to say that I am INSANELY jealous?
What a wonderful, magical winter wonderland!

suburbancorrespondent said...

You folks in Norway really know how to do winter! Sounds terrific!

Alpha DogMa said...

In that last photo: do I see a satellite dish? As if it didn't sound heavenly already - now I'm even more jealous.

And -5 sounds quite balmy to me.

Stie: My Favorite Things said...

My parents did the same thing - only with a car. They had this HORRIBLE, ugly, old station wagon that I had to be seen in all through high school. I move out of the house to go to college and BAM! they get a cute little sedan. I'm still bitter.

Your week looked so fun!

MadMad said...

Oh, awesome! It sounds like heaven - and I love getting to travel to such fun places with you! There isn't much exotic about the U.S. suburbs... (Well, actually, there is, but it's more the people who are "interesting" than the place, if you know what I mean!)

Stomper Girl said...

That looks amazing and as if you had such fun together. I've always wished I had a family house to escape to; and now one of my aunts has a beach place that we can go to. Bliss.

painted maypole said...

looks and sounds great.

Bum tray! that is the best description of those little sleds I have ever heard! :)

sandy shoes said...

Bum trays, excellent.

[homer simpson]
Mmmmm.... waaaaaafles
[/homer simpson]

Badness Jones said...

they don't rent out that cottage, do they?

Shan said...

Just incredible! Love the pictures.

Valarie said...

Awwwww, I miss snow so much! We moved down south to Florida a year and ahalf ago and one of the things I miss most about living farther north is waking up and looking outside to find that it had snowed and everything was bright and crisp and beautiful.

WorksForMom said...

Wow, that does sound so magestical. You are so fortunate to have such a cottage to retreat to.

Bum tray? Snort².

Jennifer (Jen on the Edge) said...

You are killing me -- I'm utterly green with envy. What a wonderful place.

jen said...

what a magical place. how lovely for all of you.

Just Seeking said...

I am green! what a wonderful story and gorgeous pics!

Cathy said...

Me jealous? Much?

Yes. And yes!

Kristen said...

What absolutely incredible writing. Thank you so much for the beautiful imagery and a wonderful dream. Wow.

shay said...

Oh wow. that is magical. Look at the twinkle in your beautiful boy's eyes!

How wonderful!

Who She She said...

Beautiful. If you're parents are looking to adopt a Fresh Air kid, I'm their girl.

I love it when we're able to get the kids outside for winter fun. It's an ordeal with all of the boots, mittens, snowpants, etc. but it's never not been worth it. I hope you have many more lovely weekends like the one you posted about (although this one sounds like it will be hard to top).

odd facts said...

You make my life seem really really boring.

another good thing said...

Lovely.
Truly sweet and the epidemy of good clean living- if happy was a package, this might be it.
thanks for sharing
And now I want waffles.

Jennifer said...

It looks so crisp, gorgeous and cozy, all at once. Truly a winter wonderland!

ALM said...

Ok, I've scrolled through the comments as as far as I can see, nobody else has said this. (Which I actually find very hard to believe, but perhaps my sense of humor is just so much more sophisticated than your average blog reader...)

Sooooooo cool!!

:)

(Cracking myself up.)

Lisa@Take90West said...

Your weekend sounds perfect. I want to come along next time.

Your writing is amazing, the details...you make me feel like I am right there. You should publish something. Seriously. I could see the lanterns glowing by the front door and could picture the inside of the cottage and all of you sitting by the fire and watching skiing.

BirdieRoark said...

We are thinking about renting a cabin for the weekend in Lake Tahoe this winter. I was just starting to talk myself out of it when I read this. I'm getting online to book something now!

All I have to figure out is how to get that setting-up, waffle-making fairy to show up before we do.

carrie said...

What a beautiful description of a magical place! You will have those memories forever and it will be hard to top them next year (unless you return)!

ps. I understand your angst about the cabin though - my parents moved ONTO a lake the year I went to college. I was really upset (kidding) about all the high school keggers I wouldn't be having there! :)

Aliki2006 said...

Oh, this was beautiful--the narrative and the pictures. I'm drooling, really--just drooling.

Victoria said...

Lovely. Just lovely. Adopt me? How about you come to some warm places with me, and I come experience the chilly with you and yours?

Cute pics too!!

Liesl said...

Beautiful! And how much fun the kids are having! Wow!

Gina said...

Wonderful! I am so glad you all had such a great time!

Is it wrong that my son has only seen snow once? He is prone to carsickness, and the mountains are about two and a half hours away, so we haven't taken him yet.

Not to mention, there hasn't been a whole lot of snow here in SoCal for a couple of years now.

familymclean said...

Wow, what an amazing place!

kim-d said...

Hi Heidi! Thanks for stopping by "my place" and commenting. The pix in this post are so beautiful, and those are some cute little faces peeking out from the hats and hoods. I look forward to reading back a bit and getting to know you! I'm warning you, though, I'm a "wordy" commenter :).

Queen of the Mayhem said...

It sounds BEAUTIFUL!


I just have to say...what an exciting life you lead! I love hearing about your adventures!

Beck said...

Um, that area where their cottage is looks AWFULLY familiar. VERY, VERY.

Steph said...

What a great weekend!! Your parents cottage (and surrounding area) sounds fabulous!

Don Mills Diva said...

Wow - what an incredible time. It must feel great to know these are memories your kids wioll treasure their whole lives.

Sue said...

You live in a storybook, I swear. How wonderful. How lovely.

BeachMama said...

I wish we could all have a cottage like that. A place where waffles are waiting and warm fires and there is nothing but family and fun. Ohhh, it sounds so wonderful.

Karen MEG said...

What a perfect winter wonderland! I'm not a cold weather girl, but I would have happily gone down those lovely hills with or without bum tray!
So glad that you're sharing such a fantastic experience with your boys and family and with us!!!! BTW, do your parents make housecalls :).

SoccerMomofTwo said...

That sounds like such fun. I'm jealous!

Amy Y said...

What a perfect weekend! I love your photos... The sunset was beautiful!!!