Last week I was basking in the Florida sun, pushing thoughts of shoveling and wind chills out of my head. The trip was for work (an awesome conference, in fact), but it also became a chance to get a break from winter. I walked the white sand beaches, watched the sun set off from the pier, did a kayaking tour, and visited the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to learn about marine animal rescue. The Gulf side of Florida treated me well. But here’s the funny thing. As I stepped out of the Duluth airport, back to winter and regular life, I was thankful. I wasn’t wishing I was still in Florida. I wasn’t bemoaning the temperature change (at least not much). I was happy to be back on the North Shore, my home.
It probably helped that it was 20 degrees out (instead of the -11 degrees today). It helped that on the way home we would pick up our chocolate lab, Maya, that I missed while away. And it helped that I live in an amazing place, with four seasons, so much nature and beauty that I feel spoiled, and a wonderful, supportive community of family and friends.
A few folks have commented to me “why did you come back?” with a joking tone since the return. My response is always a mix of “this is home” and “I’m a Minnesota girl.” Both are true, even when the wind chill dips to -40 degrees and I get stuck in our driveway (true story). Because to each challenging part of making a life on the North Shore, there is a balance. When I got stuck trying to get in the driveway yesterday, a neighbor stopped to help get me out. When it is crazy cold and windy, I stay warm and cozy inside at lunchtime and have great conversation with my colleagues. When the snows pile high and the trees are heavy with snow, I strap on my snowshoes and head into the woods with our dog. Is it easy living here? No. Is it worth it? Yes!
I know there will be times when I will wish for the first signs of spring, for the fall colors to arrive, or for the temperature to get above zero. Or for it to be a little easier for folks to make a life here. But, many of the challenges and cycles are part of what makes life here special. We don’t wonder why people love to come visit here and tell us they dream of living here – we see the magic, even while living here. I am thankful to live in such a special place. Thanks for a great time, Florida, but I’m happy to be home.