January at Heston's

January came in with moderate temperatures and just a bit of a west wind as we enjoyed our annual bonfire. The stars were out briefly, and then the clouds rolled in and carried a few snowflakes to us. We were with our wonderful group of friends and neighbors that have joined us for so many of the previous New Year's festivities, as we bid farewell to 2007 and welcomed all that 2008 has in store for us.

We had started the evening with a buffet dinner from places I had never traveled to, let alone eaten the foods: Lebanese, Turkish, Syrian--just a few of the ethnicities we visited on our culinary tour. With much help from an excellent and experienced team, we hosted about sixty people for dinner that night. From Chicken with Pomegranate Molasses to Kebobs with Baharat seasoning, to tabouli and a bread called Manaaeesh, it was quite a feast. I don't think anyone left hungry, especially if they stopped by the dessert table, too. In addition to several plates of delicious cookies and holiday treats, Addie and Sophie came up with some spectacular offerings, most notable a pear tiramisu, and a peppermint ice cream cake. It was difficult to get by the dessert buffet, as some folks chose just to hang out right next to it. Can't say that I blame them!

Once dinner was over, our good friend Jim teamed up with Addie, Paul, Nic, and our neighbors Samuel, Erik and Hannah for some music. Sophie and her mom, Elizabeth, also participated. The music ranged from classical, with flute and piano, to jazz and rock, with guitars, saxophone and trumpet. Following the performances, we had a sing-a-long, with Jim on the guitar, and lively voices from the audience. I saw smiles and fun all around me. Many thanks to all who played and sang--the rest of us sure enjoyed it.

Sometimes I am a bit sad to see a year go by, but I have to admit that it was not the case this time around. 2007 sure had a way about it that didn't always make it lovable. Right out of the gate, it brought challenges, with the passing of Grandma Peggy in January, the fire in May (and the aftermath), and then all the rain in the fall. We were definitely grateful for all of that moisture that came down, but it really kept us hopping as far as securing boats and docks. As ever, we made it through, and are no worse for the wear. If there is just one thing that I can hope for in this new year, it is that life is calmer......I've seen articles in the newspaper about different groups choosing a word for the previous year. I think that I will choose the word calm for 2008.

Over the past weekend, January decided to do its thaw. I remember as a kid having a January thaw, and so it's somewhat expected. The temps climbed towards the lower thirties in the last four days, but for the most part, we have been fortunate here on the Trail. Despite the predictions, we haven't seen drizzle, and the sun has been hiding, too. The snow has softened up, and we have lost some, but not near as much as other places I have been hearing about. Earlier today, we had some new snowflakes falling, and the forecast has more predicted for the next couple of days. The temperatures are supposed to go down, and so we should be back to more normal patterns for this time of year.

Lake trout fishing opens on Saturday for the lakes outside of the BWCA--that includes Gunflint Lake. For the most part, it seems that the slush is clearing up. Last night it was mild enough to have our bedroom window open about a half-inch, and the lake was making all the right sounds for more ice. Sometimes it booms and cracks, other times it just sounds like odd instruments tuning up. My favorite is when it makes noises that sound like something straight out of an outer space themed movie. The thickest ice we've heard about is around twelve inches. When Paul punched the sauna hole, he found nine inches.

Speaking of Paul, he is soon to be facing his first challenge of the new year. He will be leaving next week for Morris, Minnesota, where he will start his first semester in college. We'll miss him like the dickens, but are very happy for him to have this opportunity. College life will be very different from homeschooling in the woods of the Gunflint Trail, but I think it will suit him well. Only Addie will be left at home.....she can already see all of the work lined up for her!