“First Tracks” on the Mountain

Lutsen Mountains

I’m not sure how to describe my love of skiing, alpine that is. Cross-country is too much like working at a labor camp so I save that for rare occasions. I grew up skiing and conquering the art of bombing hills at the ripe ole’ age of 5 and I haven’t looked back since. I don’t care if it’s -20F in January or 65F in May, if there’s snow I’m there.

Lutsen Mountains Magic Carpet

Mom, I’ve got this.

A couple of weeks ago I hit the slopes for the first time this year and I couldn’t have had a better experience. Though there were only a few runs open, there was plenty of snow for the special skier I had with me; my coming 3-year-old son Theo. My husband would rather him spend his time at the rink because after all, we do live in the hockey capital of the world. But if I could persuade Theo just slightly, I was going to give it my best shot.

To start the day, we went down Big Bunny. Why not? This was only his first time ever on skis and he was going to be a natural. I had this visual in my mind that I’d put the harness on him and we’d be skiing gracefully down the hill all day long. After performing a series of squats and begging him to stand up and not sit in my arms while I desperately wished I had a sweat towel and a Bloody Mary, we made the mutual decision to work Flap Jack instead.

After the second run down I was no longer allowed to help him. I was instructed to “stay over there Mom,” which meant I was supposed to ski on the side of him and “don’t help me!” If I aided him in any fashion, I was disrupting his skiing. There was only one situation in which I could step in – stopping him before crashing into the fence at the bottom.

After 3 ½ hours of skiing, I decided to call it a day. But not after coaxing him with hot chocolate because we had about 50 “one more time” trips down the hill. We came, we conquered bombing the hill and he was sleeping before we got to highway 61.


If you have a little one that you want to get out on skis I encourage you to do it – but stick to Flap Jack. I gave up on thinking I would teach him how to carve the hill or slowdown in his first lesson. We just focused on balance and making it fun. The ski hill offers free passes to those 5 years old and under which is all the more reason to expose the little ones to another outdoor activity like skiing.

I couldn’t have been more proud of him and it went down in the books as one of my best times at the ski hill. I see skis in our future and a lot less ice rinks 😃

Until next time, peace, love and pogo sticks.

~ Helga


The Deep Freeze

Last week every meteorologist warned of the coming cold snap and each night we watched intently as they described the overnight and midday temps for the coming day. What is it about the weather that gets us so riled up? This past Thursday morning, it was cold! All night the wind blew against the house and when I headed off to work, I made sure to snap a picture of our temp gauge in the darkness of our kitchen. I just knew it had to be cold and when I got to the safety of my car, I took a look; what! -23! Yes! Once you reach the 20s, now we’re talking. That single digit and teens are small potatoes.

This past Thursday morning, it was cold. All night the wind blew against the house, box and when I headed off to work, I made sure to snap a picture of our temp gauge in the darkness of our kitchen. I just knew it had to be cold and when I got to the safety of my car, I took a look; what! -23! Yes! Once you reach the 20s, now we’re talking. Those single digits and teens are small potatoes.

I couldn’t wait to share this important information with the one person I knew would appreciate it more than anyone – the patriarch. After all, he’s a logger and also farms. Weather is an intricate part of his daily life. I dialed him up and tried to keep my composure as I made some quick small talk and then came in for the clincher – “So, what temp did you guys have this morning?” He responded calmly with, “Ah, about -9; what’d you guys have?” I couldn’t wait to blurt out, “-23!” I got a big, “Oh boy” from my dad and I was gleaming with pride.

I arrived at the office and settled into the morning banter which of course, surrounded the weather. As we exchanged pleasantries about how cold it was at our homes, I whipped out my phone to pull up the image I took of the temp. As I looked at it, I was dismayed. Now in the light of day, I could see the truth. It read -23 C. Nooooooooh!

As proud Minnesotans, we live for these days. They’re what give us our grit and heartiness to wear shorts while shoveling the driveway. When someone asks where we’re from, we don’t just say Minnesota, we say “Northern Minnesota.” After all, it’s about 3 degrees colder up here and that’s a big deal. With the temps on the rise to the mid-20s, this will all seem like a thing of the past…until next week.

In the meantime, grab some goulash with a side of tapioca and everything will be ok.

~ Helga

P.S. In case anyone was wondering, we had -24F Saturday morning. I didn’t capture a photo for evidence, but you can take my word for it.

A Griswold Family Thanksgiving

Now that I’ve had some time to unwind from Thanksgiving, I can look back on it and laugh. Why do we do this to ourselves? You’ve heard the saying, “There’s one in every family…” maybe two, three, four, ten? Who’s counting really?

This year’s joyous gathering was no different than the past. There were still the old favorites like too much food that no human should physically consume in a week let alone 4 hours. Mom’s favorite (because she makes 98% of them) “The Parade of Pies” – literally 13 this year!

The winning carrot!

The winning carrot!

The endless sharing of recipes or new takes on an old goodie; who grew the biggest or the most veggies this year – again, the award goes to mommy dearest. And who could forget the one dish that always seems to be forgotten in the oven until that wonderful burnt squash aroma starts filtering through the house.

Our family starts planning for Thanksgiving after the last piece of pie has been eaten. “Next year, we should have it at the farm next,” says Aunt Louise. “No, Fin and Margaret should host because they should be finished building their house,” pipes up Margaret’s mom. Really?? Because who doesn’t enjoy the process of moving, followed by a herd of hungry hippos crashing through the door! Well, next year’s location is still TBD.

I liken our family Thanksgiving to the Griswolds. If something can go wrong it will, and if it hasn’t gone wrong yet…it will. But even as the house exploded around us, I had to remember…this is…my family. And no matter what, we care about and love each other. Well, most of the time. We may be a special kind of crazy, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Until next time, be yourself. Everyone else is taken. (Oscar Wilde)

~ Helga