It has been almost a year since we drove into Ketchum on the Fourth of July. Living in the small town with big culture called Sun Valley has been an opportunity of a lifetime. An opportunity to experience community, nature and family like I haven’t before. I could not be more thankful to my husband, Bob, for making this possible by spending many nights trying to get home from obscure airports, by supporting me in all my endeavors from skiing to volunteering with a wild idea thrown in to keep things interesting, but most of all for his adventurous spirit to try out the unknown. This has been adventure number two for us. The first, moving to New Jersey arguably another country from Port Angeles, WA. The year has been an experience that all five of us will never forget – the highs and the lows. I love you to the moon and back…
I ended my forty-second year at home in Washington State. It was absolutely beautiful. Seattle had all it’s sparkles on starting with a surprise birthday party at The Edgewater Hotel for a friend’s 40th birthday. The water was sparkling, the sail boats were out and the giant orange sun descended behind the outline of the Olympia Mountains. These are the days when you love to say you are from The Pacific Northwest. Blue sky, sparkling water, green-green trees and the magnificent Mount Rainier. Pure heaven.
The next day I got to spend with my brother, dad, stepmom, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other close family members for dinner, a game or two and the easy chit chat that comes with knowing each other your whole life. It is easy to just ‘Be’. Love that. The next day was also full with family and friends followed by my birthday. Coincidently five friends and I had gotten tickets to see Madonna actually on my birthday. We drove to Seattle, shopped, lunched, shopped and then got ready for the big night. We started at The Dahlia Lounge before heading to the Key Arena for MDNA. It was a wonderful day…
The next couple weeks have literally been a blur – anyone else have that happen once in awhile? My husband was leaving on the same airplane that I arrived on. I went over and waved at him behind the glass and then off he went. When he got home we celebrated my birthday with a lovely cake that he and my girls baked and frosted while I was away. It was chocolate. It was delish – of course. I watched Daughter #2 play soccer and then coached my little kindergarten/1st graders. There have been hikes, skate ski training, bike rides, the Annual Trailing of the Sheep, festivals, more soccer and a little volunteering at the girls’ school. Almost forgot the Tooth Fairy came to our house for Daughter #3’s second lost tooth. Whew!
I think we are slowly getting into a rhythm of life here. It definitely is slower although clearly not slow. We are looking forward to the end of soccer practices and the beginning of the holiday season.
We have been in Ketchum for 3 months – a quarter year. The summer was amazing. The girls are off to a great start at their new school and everyone has a healthy glow. Things have been miraculously easy for uprooting our family to live in a ski town for the year. I am sure you can guess where this is headed especially if you have read my other Blog post in which I talk about how I usually reside on either end of the curve — never in the middle where the “balance” exists.
I thought we were doing pretty well until my 8 year old has become distraught about going back home. She had a bad couple days. She is the new kid. There are too many kids in the class. There was something about the teeter-totter and a girl was mean when she asked for a turn… She likes her old school way better. That said school has BIG field trips as opposed to the “walking field trip to the museum with a bunch of square houses that look like boxes.” She misses her friends who knew her. She misses our house. She misses her stuffed animals that didn’t come along. She misses her soccer team. The list is long. “Everything was better and we need to go back!” Dad has been gone for a week so I have no back up. “It was DADDY’s idea to come here!” she says.
I listened. I hugged. I talked. She cried. My sweet Daughter #2 has hearing loss in one ear which you would never know but it can cause issues especially in big, noisy classrooms, and in some social situations like the cafeteria and recess. UGH! Earlier in the day I was hiking in the these beautiful mountains and thinking about how hard it would be to return next summer. Suddenly I am ready to pack my bags and head out. I find myself telling her that she can come home with me before Thanksgiving and if the classroom is too big and if it doesn’t work then she can go to the private school (that costs way too much money). Afterwards I am thinking that she can go to the Montessori School here. Maybe we will have to go back to her private school in Tacoma. Oh my goodness. I have lost my mind!
Every organized, well thought out plan that has been seamlessly implemented has been thrown out the window because my 8 year old had a bad day! This is the tough stuff of parenting and I can’t imagine how it gets tougher. I can deal with saying no to the latest electronics even though EVERYONE else has one. I can deal with breaking up fights, even teaching them those hard valuable lessons but this one was a tough one. We implemented this plan and I don’t have my husband to remind me of all the reasons why it really is good for them. By the end of dinner two out of three were in tears and telling me they desperately want to go back.
Then they went outside. They had a raspberry biscuit. They started playing a game. All I hear is laughter from my three little people that I love with all my heart. I am on a roller coaster and nowhere close to the Puyallup Fair!
The picture is of our family on one of the many hikes close by. This is the reason we moved to the mountains. To be together. To be outside. To experience life together.
It was an amazing summer in Ketchum, ID, neighboring states, and even countries. I had intended to write in my blog at least every week, yet once we were into the summer I felt that we needed to be outside every moment. Sitting at my computer just didn’t happen as planned.
One of my other goals (that I actually did accomplish) this summer was to put my hands into a river almost everyday.There is something about actually touching nature that can transform your day, your mood and your outlook on life. There are three rivers within 5 miles of our house, as well as endless hiking trails, bike paths and outdoor opportunities. Immersing yourself in nature is not something you have to plan or think about here, you just walk out the front door.
To just walk outside and really be in nature is what I miss so much when we are in Washington. Sure, you walk out the front door and you are certainly immersed in nature in the form of rain drops but it is the appreciation and enjoyment of being outside that makes the experience in the mountains so different. I don’t know how many days, weeks or even months would go by where I did go outside (to and from the car) but without gratitude in my heart. And, in fact, I had the opposite of gratitude in my mind. That seems so sad now. I find myself craving nature, craving the touch of nature. I go hiking in these beautiful mountains and my brain is on full power. The cool rivers, smells of wild sage and the warm sunshine has me so inspired to make a difference in the world, to make a difference for my family and for myself. I have been changed by these mountains in such a short time.
I recently read Your Brain on Nature: the Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness and Vitality by Eva Selhub, M.D. and Alan Logan, N.D. Here is an excerpt from this important book:
As children, both of us grew up in households where time spent in nature was encouraged, and our current memories tell us that such times in the great outdoors were filled with curiosity, fascination, and discovery, as well as with calm, joy, and happiness. The fragrance of pine and flowers; the sounds of rushing creeks, waterfalls, and ocean waves breaking; and the sights of fireflies and other interesting animals captured our minds. As time passed, our responsibilities and adulthood pursuits left less time for nature immersion. The recognition and instant recall of nature’s benefits would be obscured by our own efforts to advance in a technologically driven world. Our individual stressors, personal anxieties, and the overwhelming demands of contemporary life would ultimately bring us back to the medicinal aspects of nature, to our current investigation of the scientific validity of those childhood memories.
I have been reminded of how much I need to be outside, to touch nature, to appreciate and have gratitude for time spent in our beautiful world. When we return to Washington, my renewed love of the outdoors will help me to be purposeful everyday. There are many opportunities there as well but it is just not calling your name everyday like it is when the mountains are right there and the sun is shining brightly. Going outside and Being in nature is a very important part of who I am and so I will figure it out no matter where I live. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be reminded of this love.
Nature is a very important part of all of us – literally part of our DNA. How do you satisfy your craving to be outside – no matter where you live?
It hasn’t even been a week and we are already into the Sun Valley groove. My homemade calendar that I do every summer has been created and the ‘To Do’ list for last minute plans has been started. I am so inspired by all there is to do in a mountain town in the summer – especially Sun Valley. There are an infinite number of opportunities to be in nature, exercise, listen to inspiring lectures, summer camps for kids and ways to be creative artistically.
I guess nothing is perfect and yesterday I experienced just that. Driving. The flip side to small town living is that you must get in your car and drive, and drive, and drive to get to, well, anywhere else. Yesterday I needed to go to Target and Costco for various things you need when you move including food at a reasonable price. This used to take 3 minutes each way as Target and Costco were literally around the corner. Three hours. It took one and a half hours each way to go shopping for kids’ summer clothes, organizing baskets, food, cleaning materials, soap, etc. I didn’t get to exercise, be outside, or create anything.
The yin and yang. The calendar and things to do might be the same but we are not on vacation in Sun Valley this time. It is real life and real life requires that you don’t spend double the price on things you might need. So I will need to dedicate some ‘days’ to hunting and gathering for provisions.
Today, we are going to plant some flowers. First, a 30 minute drive to the nursery that has reasonable prices.
Our year in the town of Ketchum, ID has begun. We survived the drive, unpacked and found places for just about everything. It really is amazing to me how little we really need for a year of living. So many things are collected and so little is useful on a daily basis. Our clothes, computers, bikes, the Wii, lots of books for me and the girls, American Girl dolls, yoga mats, Bob’s fly fishing and hunting stuff, camera equipment, camping equipment and about a dozen stuffies. That is what we have deemed important for the year although most would not be called ‘essential’. How is that we still have full cupboards at home? So far I can’t think of one thing that we forgot and cannot do without. Starting the year off a little lighter feels really great.
This will be our 8th year coming to Sun Valley so we have bypassed the idea of being completely new to the area. When trail running the other day, I was asked by two different groups how to get somewhere and I actually knew what I was talking about. Feeling like a local already. The girls have jumped right in with a marathon play date with the girl next door — 9:30 am to 7:30 pm. We have been to Warm Springs Creek, The Big Wood River and Trail Creek in the three days we have been here. “It isn’t summer until we are in Sun Valley,” says my oldest daughter. I think that is true.
Let’s see, what shall we do today?
Today my family is driving to Ketchum, ID for a ONE YEAR adventure in small town living. We are pushing ‘pause’ on the suburban treadmill that we have found ourselves on to live in a place where the mountains are big, the rivers fast and the sun shines all year long.