Winter solstice summit with Loulynn

Loulynn sat in a heap of her own coat and gloves on the trail in the snowy forest singing and playing with the fluffy powder. I heard my Coach Mommy voice, the joy killer, say, “We have to make a choice to either go up or go down. But we can’t stop to play so much. It’s the shortest day of the year and we are racing the sun!”

It was 20-something degrees and we were perfectly dressed, but the mountain has its cold blue shadow, so why stand around with our boots in the snow letting it sink in. My dog was traipsing up trail through the snow-weighted boughs of alpine spruce, toward the warm light and crepuscular rays of the midday sun outlining every hard edge of ridge line and tree trunk in blue, silver, and gold.

After a four miles up the snow-graded mountain road (with friendly backcountry skiers stopping their swerve down to chat with us) and a decent segment of actual trail, all manner of edible motivations deployed, Loulynn made her final push up with a bit of help from my dog leash as our short rope. Through the half foot of powdery snow, she said “I never give up because I always want to see what is at the tippety top.”

One year ago, she brought me a sticker of snow-topped Mt. Fuji and announced she wants to climb it with me, sticking it to the top of my hand. And so I say now, when we head off on a trail or prepare our packs, “This is training for Mt Fuji.”

7 miles, 1300 ft elevation gain, let the record show that Solstice 2022 was her first proper winter hike to the tippety top.


Worldschooling Team in off season!

Eli, 8. Loulynn, 5. Hannah, 41

We are a ramshackle team but accomplish much; and we are in our off-season. Halloween through Christmas is a good time to slow down, stay put, and enjoy the festive, community offerings of small town life. 

2022, our first full year living in Vermont, was a whirlwind exploration of the Atlantic coast from Massachusetts to Maine, and on up and across Maritimes Canada and Quebec. There was lots of inland journeying as well: camping, hiking, playing with other adventure families across Vermont and Upstate New York.

Winter starts tomorrow, and we look forward to a full ski and ice skate season. True Vermont kids they will be and once ski season is over, when the ice turns mud, and the snow turns rain, we will set out further afield from the “homebase” again. 

Meanwhile, I’ve been traveling without kids, forging ahead in grown-up Adventureland. I’ve been off every other weekend since October, exploring African dance within the radius of 200 miles from my very non-African, Vermont community. And there’s been plenty else too: on trail, in a tent, housesit, hotel, or airbnb, it’s been a full fall for me! Soon I will head to the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife with fellow adventurer, creative, and super parent, Mikael Strandberg, doing what? An unfolding of many things indeed!

Every year I start with a loose plan of some kind. On the docket for 2023 is an increasing ambition and focus in the mountains of the New England ranges with packs, and hitting the road with fully loaded bikes. Putting distance and skill in the body and hands, putting a taste of pack life in the back of the throat. Shall we backpack across Europe for their 5th time, and first since pandemic? I’ll need to ask the universe to help me whip it together. But yes, we shall. 

That taste of pack life is one that can’t be gargled or spat away. Maybe it’s just me that can’t swallow the nag. But I am captain and if we are to do life beyond school, Captain Mom is leading the way from the back.

As they piddle about and mess the house up every day, I do as Mikael calls “daydream and train hard.” I hit the gym, trail, or pavement, every day. Training for what? Adventure at the drop of a hat, it seems. This is indeed the recipe, attested to by my entire adult life of lands coursed with body and wheels. 

Practically too, I cook, clean, shop, launder, and chauffeur a lot, and we get them outdoors. I rest by writing, photo-editing, applying for housesits, reading up on places, or tapping away on the phone with my people, shopping for used gear, looking at maps, getting library books, and pulling it all out of thin air. In other words, Worldschooling Mom in high gear.

Like tomorrow, the Winter Solstice, what shall it bring? The shortest day should accompany a big a milestone for some of the team. We shall see!