Just Write {165}

December 9, 2014


I was driving and thinking, Who in their right mind would board a plane or go on a long road or train track trip to come here this time of year? But I was still wishing you all could see it, the magic and mystery of west central Minnesota, at night, in the heart of winter.

Where is the heart of winter? I don’t know, maybe it doesn’t start pulsing until after the holidays, but I think they actually call that the “dead of winter”. Don’t come at that time, wait until spring.

The driving at night thing doesn’t happen a lot for me anymore. I’m either tucking in kids or myself, getting ready to start another super early day, when I leave just after sunrise. I come very close to driving in the dark most every morning, with the kids to school, or to The Building to bust out some writing work. I am an early riser, and need to be one these days.

But I digress.

The driving at night thing, when it does happen, is time to reflect–to see lights cutting through the pitch black, and to gasp over bright white lights strung along the roof line of a church on a hill in the country. This one was partially hidden by trees, and its steeple had a star. I wanted to slam on the brakes, pull over, take a picture. But I didn’t, I thought, Maybe tomorrow. Because it was a night drive home from work, and I had deer to avoid and food and a bed at home.

This day had brought me a new experience, out past the familiar country spaces I’ve grown up with, and into the next town’s territory. Icy tar roads led to gravel roads dusted with more icy snow. Wide open spaces allowed the silos and ginormous out-buildings of farms to jut up from the horizon, past rows of barren trees. Oh, the trees this time of year, in this heart of winter. They are like the hands of an old farmer, bare and bent, swollen in random places, cold and stiff.

I write often about my deeply rooted (pun intended) love of nature, the outdoors, the freedom and holiness I feel in ordinary outside places. Even in the winter, when the cold winds steal my breath and turn my hands stiff and sore, I love it. It is home. I sit with people who have that same passion, and I listen to stories of working the earth for over fifty years, of caring for animals all those same years. I listen to how work was never done, and family was everything. I glance at the Norwegian Prayer on the fridge. I see the Scandinavian Christmas decorations, feel the draft from winter’s heart wind across my neck in the old creaky farm house.

There are pictures everywhere–of family, and many of the farm itself–from above, up close, from down the long driveway. Photos in the spring, summer, fall, and the heart of winter. The dead of winter. In those photos, the trees are showing their crooked hands, still and quiet by the never-empty out buildings, the tractors and silos. And now a man sits inside and watches through a big window facing the activity, too old and worn to work, many years retired. He can’t not look out there, with his calloused and cold fingers always moving, like they never learned to stop.

I couldn’t possibly say what it is like to work that hard for that many years while a love of family and farm run deeper and deeper with each passing day. I cannot know what it feels like to stop.  We can only sit now, sharing stories, joys and regrets, and a few tears. And then I’ll drive home in the dark, astounded by life, and at the light cutting through it.


This is the 165th installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {New here? Please see the details.} I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page. (Then link back to this post in your Just Write post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in.) (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.)

Also. Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word?


Heather Adams December 9, 2014 at 11:20 am

This is so beautiful!

Amber @ Beautiful Rubbish December 9, 2014 at 7:47 pm

Oh Heather. I haven’t been here in awhile, and being here again, I see how I’ve missed your words. I resonate so much with this deep love of nature, of finding sanctuary and holiness in the outdoors, of desire to care for the earth and animals and sit with people who share the same passion. Thank you for this little glimpse of beauty in your life.
Amber @ Beautiful Rubbish recently posted..A perpetual state of advent

Rose December 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

Best road trip I’ve taken this year. Reminded of my car trips in the fifties from Houston to the small bay town of Palacios. So glad I found your beautiful writing.

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