/noun/ [hoog-uh]: the feeling of coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having conversations with friend or family, enjoying food, etc.
As a Florida girl, I had never heard about this phenomenon called “Crust Cruising.” It’s springtime magic. The days get warm enough to melt the snow a little bit, and then it refreezes over night, creating a crusty skateable/walkable layer of snow. It means that there are no limits—you can saunter on mountainsides that are usually covered in sage because you’re on top of it all, walking on six feet or so of snow from the winter storms.
The cruising of the crust coincided perfectly with the first week of extended daylight this year. Pal and I headed out immediately after work to the same area daily because we fell in love with it.
Four out of five days that week, we saw a man and his dog arrive around the same time. The man looked to be in his sixties. The yellow lab appeared to be Pal’s age–the dogs were very aware of each other, but didn’t bark or try to run to greet one another. Just like the man and me.
He carries a chair and a backpack. They walk above the trail, we walk below it, leaving the actual packed down trail for somebody who doesn’t appreciate the exploratory route of having no route. The man and his dog find their way to the same hill and then sit at the very top, sometimes for the entirety of my walk. I wonder if they’re just soaking up as much sun as they possibly can after work, too…if this is his hygge, a simple comfort of a daily walk to the same hill, where they will be silent and watch the shadows on the snow as the sun sets. Or maybe he just lost his wife and this is where they used to walk together. Maybe he’s writing to her on a postcard because he just doesn’t know what else to do with his grief, he just feels like he needs to write how much he misses her.
Maybe he’s actually chugging whiskey and thinking about how much he hates everyone and everything. Either way, in some weird way, I think it’s beautiful, this peaceful habitual snowy hill hike.
I guess it’s a little crazy that I’m writing these to you. It’s just a lot crazy that you’re gone and I guess it’s helping me cope. I know we know our grandparents will get older and will pass away but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. When I start to get overly emotional, the rational part of me thinks, ‘Beth, calm down. She had 87 years of a wonderful life.’
Yes, that is true, but I had 33 years, my entire life to love you, to admire you, to call when I missed or needed you. My whole life, I’ve had a bright light in my Grandma Dixie, always available (except at siesta time) for a wise word, a laugh, a book review, a sweet sentiment, a shoulder to lean on. The void feels absolutely incredibly GIGANTIC and so worth mourning over. Yes, you had a great long life but it sure does feel like it ended too soon. I have the Pen Pal card that says “Feel better immediately” still in my satchel for you and ten cards in my cart that you ordered to send to your friends.
We will all congregate on the day after Thanksgiving to have the celebration of life ceremony. It will be beautiful, I have no doubt, because your life was so beautifully lived. But I’m sure it will bring another meaning to “Black Friday” for us; the world does seem a bit darker without our sweet Dixie in it.
I LOVE YOU,
I re-listened to all of your voicemails last night. Last week, too. It’s something I’ve been doing when I feel the urge to hear your voice. Some of them were under 20 seconds, and part of me was surprised I saved them because they didn’t say much. But boy did they say MUCH…hi and that you were thinking of me, that it was warm in “Floreeda” it is probably cold in “Ideeho”, and that you loved me so much. Your voice always sounded so excited and joyful and I just imagine you sitting in your rocking chair on the porch, contacting your grandkids, making notes on their lives and their significant others so you were sure to remember and ask us next time. You made us all feel so loved and treasured. What a gift! It takes time to stay involved and keep up with a big family and you sure did succeed. We are going to give it our all to follow in your footsteps and do the same.
Missing you an outrageous amount,
P.S. The weather has been absolutely beautiful in Ideeho. Warm in the days, cool in the mornings and evenings. Pal and I are enjoying every single day. The quilt you made me is on my bed and keeps me perfectly warm at night.
A lot of people miss you. We talk about how it comes in waves, how we will be okay until we’re at the grocery store picking out bacon and the salty tears start to fall. You made the best BLTs in the whole world. I know they couldn’t have been that special ingredient-wise because they only consist of B, L, and T. It was almost as if we had even better conversation when we were eating them, like it was our special grandmother-granddaughter time so we better talk about the future and boys and memories we hold dear.
You were such an encourager of my writing and I loved that. You always asked me how my next book was going, but never made me feel badly when I didn’t have an update. “You’ll get back to it when the time is right” is something you’d say. You were right. I’m back to it now. I have a nice big desk in the new condo and my typewriter and laptop will sit side by side and I will click clack away, knowing it’d make you proud.
That’d be a wonderful goal…to do something per week that you loved. Sit in the hammock, feed the birds, plant some flowers, read a good book, make someone feel special, send out a note, go camping, drive to the beach, put Doug Hammer in the CD player, call my cousins, rock in the rocking chairs…I think I’ll start with lunch today. BLTs in the sunshine.
[prahy-muh fey-shee-ee, fey-shee, fey-shuh, pree-]
- at first appearance; at first view, before investigation.
Prima facie, I saw the father and his little blonde daughter on a dinner date and I smiled too big to be in the middle of the crazy Friday night rush.
My smile didn’t fade as I greeted them, because she was polite and darling and he was proud and attentive. I can’t fully explain the importance of this time between a father and a daughter, I just know it is special because I’ve felt it. I remember eating ribs with my dad after a softball game, just the two of us, and it stands out as one of my favorite memories in 32 years of life. It’s so silly, because we spent all kinds of time together every single day but for some reason, this moment really stands out to me. I’m sure it’s something about feeling adored and loved and treasured like only our dads can make us feel. It felt like there was no where else my dad would rather be than there with me.
When I brought the salads out, the girl was in the restroom. I said, “She’s precious.” He perfectly responded with, “She really, really is. And so fun. I took her fly fishing today and she caught FIFTEEN fish! She absolutely loved it.”
He was beaming. My heart grew fifteen sizes in that moment. When I returned to pick up empty salad plates, she was explaining her favorite book in great detail. He listened to every word as if it was the most entertaining thing he’d ever heard. She’ll never forget this night, I can assure you of that. She’ll remember what they ate and what they talked about and she’ll probably blog about it when she’s 32.
- something that strongly attracts attention by its brilliance, interest, etc.
Where have we been?! I’m sorry, reader, we’ve been out frolicking through fields of wildflowers, popping Zyrtec, fishing with a handsome boy, and slinging a lot of prime rib. These are not sufficient reasons to stop writing; I’m happy to report that Pal and I are currently scripting a pitch for a local magazine. Stay tuned!
I ran across Mary Oliver’s poem called the Sweetness of Dogs again today and was so moved, I have to share it with you:
“What do you say, Percy? I am thinking
of sitting out on the sand to watch
the moon rise. Full tonight.
So we go
and the moon rises, so beautiful it
makes me shudder, makes me think about
time and space, makes me take
measure of myself: one iota
pondering heaven. Thus we sit,
I thinking how grateful I am for the moon’s
perfect beauty and also, oh! How rich
it is to love the world. Percy, meanwhile,
leans against me and gazes up into
my face. As though I were
his perfect moon.”
Ah, to be our pup’s cynosure. That’ll make any cynicism from life fade away into the moonlight.