Well, as Ali calls it, today was a "stay at home day." Although, they are all stay at home days right now, we usually plan family outings on the weekends with our dear friends here, and this weekend is no different. After brunch at Ronald McDonald House, we headed over to our friends Logan and Erin's house. Today, it was off to the apple orchard! We caravaned in our respective minivans out to Pine Tree Orchard, where we attempted to go last weekend, but ran out of time. This time, Logan took me around the south side of White Bear Lake, which is kind of the scenic route. Logan and I went to middle school together in a little picturesque town in Connecticut called Redding. Redding is an outdoor paradise. No stores, no strip malls, no stop lights... just rural beauty. Well, the road we were on today was the closest thing to Redding I've experienced since leaving in 1995. Even Logan made that comment when he got out of the car today at the orchard. We wound through forest, field, lake, and pond on a quiet, single lane road, bathed in the most incendiary leaves both draped overhead and blanketed all around us.
What I realized on this road is that Minnesota is beautiful. Period. It doesn't matter what month it is, or what season. So it gets cold, yeah, we all know that. Still, I posit that the cold doesn't steal the beauty from your eyes, especially from your heated car or home, just like the desert heat doesn't steal the beauty from your eyes from within your air conditioned car or home. Yes, I'm sure it stings for the moments you have to be outside, just like the desert sun.
After hearing all the build up and hype about the winter here, Ang and I are a little bummed we won't get to experience it. After living in Phoenix for 9 years, I feel like I have learned how to deal with extreme weather, and after spending 20 of my first 22 years in New England, I'm no stranger to the fluffy white stuff. Anyhow, the lesson I'm learning is that weather and beauty are not directly related. Some people love the hot, some like the cold, some like the sun, some like the rain. None of that is affixed to the land it interacts with. The day before I arrived in MN, I drove through the endless green fields of eastern Montana in the never setting sun. The day I arrived, I drove through North Dakota and Minnesota in gray skies, wind, and rain. My experience? The land was just as beautiful shrouded in the protective blanket of rain and cloud that make this region so lush all summer, and so white in the winter as when it was drenched in sunlight.
Anyhow, we arrived at the orchard and spent the day eating popcorn, apple rollovers, donuts, and cider while riding tractor rides through the orchards, pony rides, a gigantic corn maze, and pumpkin patch. The kids had so much fun, as did the adults! The weather was perfect: warm sun, and a cool breeze. It just felt... clean. The orchard is situated upon a large hill that looks out over a beautiful lake and other fields. It was sooo serene, even with a crowd of people there hoping to take advantage of the indian summer happening up here. People were all extremely happy and in good moods, pleasant in their interactions (except for when we got scolded for being on the wrong side of the fence at the tractor rides....).
It was a beautiful location, and we were with a beautiful family. There was joy present in the three kids (Owen 6, Ali 4.5, and Ellery 4), and there was joy present in the 6 adults. It's good to outnumber the kids 2-1. It makes for easy chaperoning! There was a lot of laughter as well. Smiles abounded, and peace floated down upon us. God is good. All the time!
Band promo photo? I tried to make it look like an old weathered photo from the 70's...
By the time we finished up, it was dinner time, and the Spectors invited us over to their house for dinner, so we headed back to their place for dinner. The kids were a little tired, and we had one tantrum (the perpetrator shall remain nameless out of respect), but all in all, it was a wonderful day, followed by a wonderful evening.
When you go looking for God's angels to intercede when times are tough, don't go looking for beings in robes with wings. Start with the people in your life. Right here, right now. Those are your angels. Remember my "3 F's Rule:" Friends, Family, Faith. That's all you need when you get blindsided by life. Today, I had all three surrounding me. No wonder I was at peace.
Who are your angles? Hint: look past your obvious answer. There are far more around you than you realized. Wanna another piece? You are an angel to more people than you realize as well. Go be one.
P.S. Angelique had the AWESOME idea of webcasting the memorial, so that everyone could be there in the moment together, but we don't have the foggiest idea how to accomplish that, especially considering that the event is outdoors. If you have any knowhow in this area, comment with your email and I'll be in touch. Thanks!