The foot print of our love makes us stronger. We sharpen each other, we soften each other – that’s what love does.

-Gunnar Larson

A long weekend in bad weather in the eastern sierras with no cell phone service. We meet our carefully plucked handful of family at a big disney-esk mountain resort. Woodland creatures whittled out of logs and manufactured river stones adorn the  gas fireplaces. A dry winter has made for pleasantly uncrowded town life. The snow is one long afternoon away from mud. A storm blows in, barely cold enough  – but it tries to snow. The gale winds howl and howl for snow. At night, walking back from the bar, (where the bartenders pass joints around as they close up) the flakes brush our cheeks and into our collars. But by mid-day it is wet again.

We look forward to meals, movies, a puzzle is the main attraction. The winds drive us back inside again and again.

We are a family that cracked open and reformed. Like a bone, family will always reform. It may not be as it was, it will not work the same or feel the same. But you learn how to incorporate it’s new level of functionality. We learn how to be a family by sitting around a living room playing games and pushing at each other. Little pushes, little prods. We take our new family out to dinner and test it, use it as we once did. It feels different but it is still our family.  We are happy to be the table in the restaurant that is always laughing. We are the people that you see and think “what a nice family.” Only we know how long it took and how hard it was to get here. Love isn’t easy, and often its painful but it makes us better – and really isn’t it the only thing?

We take our new family to the hot springs about 20 miles from town. It is a long dirt road to a little wooden path. A hot creek comes up from nowhere – a little fold in the earth that loosed. Low blonde grasses and sage spread in every direction until they hit the bald gray hills. The white mud is actually crusty tufts of salt and it’s fun to stomp on it.

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The water is warm and gooey with mud. We dip our shoulders back down into it every time the wind picks up. We watch the storm roll in over the mountain – low and promising. The toddler throws slimy rocks at us – babbling nonsense. We are eventually driven out by two groups of co-eds with selfie sticks and heavy beer coolers.

“We don’t know what it’s going to do, until it’s happening” is what people say about the weather on Mammoth mountain. I think you could say that about pretty much any force in life organic or engineered.

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