My mom, sister, sister-in-law, and I follow each other into the crowded room to a small table near the stage.

I turn to look around at everyone squished in beside us. My mom leans over the tea-light in the middle of the table. “Do you recognize anyone?” she asks.

I crane my head to get a good look but see no familiar faces. I’m a bit surprised–even though we’re in the big city–since these seem like my kind of people and I frequented this place in years past. Then, after listening to the tattooed, dredlocked performer a while, it dawns on me. I don’t recognize anyone because I’m “old”. The first clue was the men around me; lithe, with stretched holes in their ears and funky hair, they don’t resemble the balding, beer-bellied males in my cohort. It’s hard to believe I don’t look like the 22-year old women around me either, but my sister confirms it. “Yep. Definitely younger than you,” she says.

The friends I used to know aren’t here because they’re probably doing homework with their 10-year-olds or adding toilet paper and lunchables to their grocery list. Something I’d be doing myself, if I weren’t on a girls’ weekend away.

“Do you miss this life?” Kristalyn asks me.

No. No I don’t. But I’m happy to be here now, out with my women, wondering what exactly makes me look older when I feel so young.

After my long-anticipated weekend away, Stan and I make a last-minute decision to visit his parents and brother’s family. Two flights and a seven hour drive later we’re rolling down our rental car windows, waving our pasty white arms in the warm breeze, giddy to have found spring on our way to Grandma and Grandpa’s. It seems nothing inspires patriotism more than a few budding trees; between shrieks of joy and pointing out daffodils in the ditches, Susanna asks her Dad if he remembers how to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Stan needs no other invitation and gives a heartfelt rendition, quickening all our Canadian winter-worn hearts.



Making a fort in G+G’s woods




Remember how awkward it was to play with the children of your parent’s old friends? I don’t know how these guys do it but they seem to skip through the awkwardness every year. The Haywoods’ personalities help.


helping grandpa split wood


One of the best parts, and our impetus for going, is seeing Lucy. Lucy smiling. Lucy leaning in for another kiss. Lucy bugging her brother. Lucy eating hummus. Lucy tolerating lavish attention and excessive cousin-handling…



Grandpa, Uncle Philip, Lucy and Simon


Grandma’s specialty: Easter egg treasure hunt


A day in Chicago (at the Shed aquarium) before flying home

The day after we get home Stan spots the first (local) robin of the season. He stops playing his guitar, mid-strum, and raises his hands jubilantly. “I see it!” He hoots. “I see the first robin!”

At this point chaos ensues. The first robin-sighting is a big deal around here; the observant family member gets to choose where we go out for ice cream. Susanna is crushed because it’s been years since she was the first one to see the spring robin. We try to tell her the honour is nominal–we all get to eat ice cream and we go to the same place every year, no matter who sees the bird, but she’s not convinced. Unfortunately for her the rest of us are unsympathetic because, well, the robins are back!

Happy spring (even though it snowed yesterday),


PS. Besides robins, this book is getting me into the spring/gardening mood. If you don’t like vegetables, either growing or cooking them, you’ll find it excruciating. I can’t wait to pick it up every night–it’s almost as good as An Everlasting Meal.


7 thoughts on “Travels

  1. I just love reading your posts. Thanks for sharing pictures of Lucy as we pray for her and her family. At times like this it is just important to take that surprise flight home and see family. Glad you could do that.

  2. That’s the first glimpse at your bump I’ve seen! Post more pictures of yourself, I keep forgetting there’s a little one growing inside of you!
    Your travels sound lovely, and I’m so glad you got some time with Lucy. I love your robin tradition too – how lovely to celebrate spring like that! I’ve marked your book down, maybe once I get through “A hundred foot journey” I’ll try to get your book – only a few pages left to go. Great suggestion, I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Indian and French cuisine are pretty much my top two so it wasn’t hard to fall in love with the story around it. 🙂

  3. Oh, I am so glad you got to spend some time with Stan’s family and especially Lucy! She is so adorable and I continue to pray for their family and their journey! What a cool robin tradition. Is it too late for Harry & me to start that??? haha

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