It's technically not that close to the end of winter, we still have over a month to go (I guess that means that we're only a little over halfway through), but I really love the tail end of winter. Here in the mountains in Italy, we have longer days with more sunshine, which for a Californian like me is really important. Late winter and early spring skiing are really nice, with days that are often warm enough for cross-country in just a long-sleeve shirt.
Yesterday we drove to Pra-Loup in France for a full day of downhill skiing, something we don't get to do much of since our little ones arrived. It was a beautiful day, cold enough for the snow to stay nice and solid, but not so cold that you suffer from it. Lunch on a sunny deck halfway up the mountain was a special treat, as were the excellently groomed runs. Driving home involved a climb up a windy road to the Colle della Maddalena, with a 360 view of the snow-capped peaks of the Alps in the late afternoon sun, and as I admired the landscape, I thought with a bit of sadness about our impending return to California. Even with all the fun and activities that await us, one of the big things I will miss here is the view, the mountains, the fresh air and wilderness just outside our door.
We have been here for two months, and I am ready to go home. I'm ready to start planting some seeds for my garden, growing some lettuce for fresh salads, shopping at the local Farmer's Market, having lunch at the co-op, baking bread, running and hiking and maybe even some skiing up in the Sierras. We'll see what the future holds, but mostly I'm looking forward to spring. To the first Easter that my kids will really understand the idea of hunting Easter eggs. To really getting out in nature with them, checking out flowers, planting seeds, watering the garden, digging in the dirt, and running in the grass. To longer days, sunshine, and eventually short sleeves and sandals. To the Whole Earth Festival! To throwing open the windows, and cleaning and organizing my house (thanks pinterest!). It's going to be a good spring, I can feel it.
And I know that before I get there, I've got to say good-bye to everyone here, pack up our bags, and transport our whole family including two toddlers from Italy to California - two flights, two car trips, one layover, two trips through security, immigration, and customs ... I'm a bit tired just thinking about it.
Perhaps it's best to think instead of the very short term - a lovely family lunch tomorrow at Gli Allemands, where my in-laws have a vacation home on a wooded mountainside a couple miles outside of town. It looks like it's going to be a beautiful day, and for that I am thankful.