I’m finally done with the semester and am now home for the holidays. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I was raised by my parents. I know many people hate the cold weather and snow that winter in the northeast means, but in my family, winter is loved along with the other seasons. My mom always jokes that she won’t retire to the south like most people, but instead will retire to further north (maybe Vermont). One of my mom’s favorite things is cross country skiing, so she definitely loves winter.
I went snowshoeing with my mom yesterday afternoon. I don’t remember the last time I went snowshoeing. It must have been several years ago. We all got snowshoes for Christmas many, many years ago, but only my parents have used them often. The snowshoes I used yesterday were the ones that were originally meant for my brother (I wear a size 6 1/2 shoe and my brother is now 6’3″ with size 13 feet!). The snow wasn’t very deep (which means it was easier), so I had fun! Growing up we also always had cross country skis and boots. We even had a pair that was for really young kids that strapped in regular snow boots. Actually, I think we still have them. My mom loves having enough in case people come to visit and want to go and she loves teaching friends’ kids.
My parents love the outdoors. They aren’t as outdoorsy as some people, but they have definitely brought us up to love the outdoors too. I think this was the first summer we didn’t go camping as a family. We always had hiking boots, even when we were young. If you were to walk through our backdoor right now, you’d be greeted by 3 pairs. We have snowshoes, skis, and kayaks. We started hiking when we were little and my parents got us these little canvas backpacks that were always stuffed with nature books, and binoculars. All of us own snow-pants (mine are really old ones that were originally my aunts and are overall-style snowmobiling ones, but they still work well). We spent our summers as kids exploring streams and woods, catching salamanders and fishing in ponds; and our winters sledding, skiing, and making snowmen. We were outside every single day.
We were also raised to work hard. We live in a rural area. One year for Christmas I got nice work-gloves (that are still too big because the good ones are always for men and my hands are small, even for a female) and a Carhartt coat, so I wouldn’t ruin my nicer jacket when I was helping my dad stack wood or work in his wood-shop. I know how to use most power tools. I’ve used a log splitter. We have a woodstove (although I have to be honest here and admit that I’ve never split wood). I can spackle and install molding. I used a nail gun when I was about 10 to help my dad install a wooden wall in my parent’s bedroom. When I’m at college, I normally wear my peacoat, but here, you are just as likely to find me in my old stained heavy winter coat. The nicest (by nicest, I mean best quality) apparel I own are my hiking boots, my down jacket, my rain jacket, my hiking socks, and a winter hat.
I wouldn’t change how I was raised. I love that I can get dressed up in a fancy dress and heels and wear makeup and do my hair nice, but that I’m just as comfortable in a pair of sturdy jeans, a t-shirt, my hiking/work boots, and a pair of work-gloves with my hair thrown up in a ponytail. I love that I can be sophisticated and classy when I want but that I can also get messy and dirty and do things on my own that others might hire someone to do. I love that I can be the stereotypical female and bake, sew, and enjoy doing laundry and then turn around and do things that are stereo-typically male, like carry heavy logs, stack wood, fix a house, and enjoy doing physical labor. I love that my summer jobs have consisted of working at a pool as a supervisor, being summer custodial help, painting garages/barns/sheds, and babysitting. I love that I can be both a girly-girl and a tomboy, sometimes even in the same day. I love that my hobbies go from sewing and scrapbooking to refinishing furniture and hiking. I love that I would rather camp than stay in a hotel (and hey, it doesn’t hurt that it’s much cheaper). I love that I have outdoorsy equipment that I can use whenever I feel like it and that will stay with me as I grow up and move out of my parents’ home.
Most of all, though, I am grateful that my parents instilled a love of the outdoors in me. Out in the nature is where I feel most at home. Big cities are nice to visit, but I will always be a country girl, where forests and mountains and lakes and rivers are right there to be enjoyed and grant peace to my life.