Johnny Appleseed

DSC_0488One of my favorite things about the farm I grew up on was a giant Red Delicious apple tree sitting in the middle of the orchard. My dad planted lots of fruit trees when we moved to the farm but that particular tree was there long before that and all the others were simply added around it.

That tree was kind of my spot, the place where I would go when I wanted to think, pray, or be alone. I would climb up and sit in its scruffy branches or pace around beneath it when I couldn’t hold still.

DSC_0496I remember picking hundreds of apples off it one year when the snow had already come and my dad was trying to save the fruit before it was ruined and gone. I remember my dad climbing around on the branches like a monkey and dropping the apples into my nine or ten year old hands one by one. He gave me a dollar at the end of the day for helping him in the cold and we had more apples than we could ever use that year. I wonder if he remembers that day as well as I do.

My parents put a park bench under that tree and I remember sitting there talking with Darren when we were dating. It’s a sweet memory sitting there under the shade of the trees getting to know the man I would spend my life with.

DSC_0497That tree is gone now along with the rest of the orchard and the house I grew up in. It will always be one of my biggest regrets that I didn’t take any pictures of it before I left home but of course I didn’t know then that I would never see that place again. You never do know how life will work out.

My dad did something very special for me recently; he bought me two baby apple trees and promised to help me plant them at our new house when he comes to visit this summer. Darren and I picked the trees out one night in the rain and came home with a Red Delicious and a Mcintosh that now sit on our front porch waiting for my dad to plant them. The Red Delicious is going crazy with glossy leaves and lots of delicate pink buds.

DSC_0476I slipped outside today with my camera and took pictures of the papery pink buds blossoming in the sunshine. I won’t have any regrets about documenting this very special tree.

I wasn’t able to plant a garden this year, what with moving and a baby on the way. But the cheerful buds on my apple tree brighten my day and gives me something from nature to enjoy until I have flowers and garden next year.

DSC_0478Trees and blossoms will always be some of my favorite things. Just call me Johnny Appleseed :]

Memories of Mexico

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I spent a couple different weeks in Mexico when I was a teenager. I was going through a box of photos the other day and came across some of the pictures taken while I was there. Back then I took all my pictures with one of those disposable cameras with film. I was crazy about cameras and pictures and I remember driving my mom crazy when I had film to develop. I would ask her every day if I could take it to the store to develop and then I would ask her every.single.day. if the pictures were ready to pick up. She’s a profoundly patient woman :]

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These first two pictures were taken when I was 16. Though the quality is not very good, these photos bring back a world of memories. Everything from how sweet these kids were—always on our heels wanting to play and have their picture taken, to the way the air smelled up in the humid mountains of Mexico. I remember the meal a group of women made over an open fire in a kitchen with a dirt floor…I was afraid to eat it at first but it tasted so fresh and good. I remember sleeping on a cot on the ground and being woken up by a very loud rooster every morning.

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The rest of these pictures were taken in a different part of Mexico when I was 18. Again, the kids were the best part of the trip. Darren pointed out to me that all these kids would be in their late teens or early twenties by now, older than I was when I took these…amazing.

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Exploring the streets with my best friend :]

I’m so glad we have photos to capture the present and take us back to the past. I had all but forgotten about these trips and now they are alive in my heart again.

Letter to a Younger Me

Dear 16 Year Old Kari,

This is 26 year old Kari—don’t freak out.

It’s been ten years. A lot has happened.

Like…

You finished high school. High five.

You went to and graduated from college. You started as a journalism major and finished with a degree in counseling because you didn’t like other people telling you how to write.

You are still paying for college 😦

You got married and you married well.

{This is your husband. He is hot. I can not describe to you how much you will love him}

You moved across the country to Massachusetts.

You’ve moved three times in Massachusetts and you’re not done yet.

You don’t have kids. They still scare you. But you finally got a cat…and sometimes she scares you too.

You colored your hair. Can you believe that? Me either.

You have to wear contacts because you see like an 80 year old woman without them. You had glasses but you lost them somewhere between Massachusetts and Missouri. The glasses were pink. You chose them from the children’s section (even though you were in your 20s) so it’s probably best that they got lost somewhere between here and there.

You don’t cry anymore. You will find it doesn’t help and one day, you’ll just stop.

There will be this thing called Facebook. You will join somewhere around your junior year of college.

In college a fellow journalism major will ask you what a “blog” is. You won’t know.

You will write a blog.

You will grow more confident about some things, more insecure about others. Security will be a life-long journey.

You still hate fish. I hope you always hate fish.

There will be little tiny phones called “cell phones.” People will walk around typing little tiny emails into their cell Phones—this is called “texting.”

You know that ghetto coffee shop called “Dunkin’ Donuts”? Embrace. Soon you will be best friends.

You will work at an aerospace company. I know, I can’t believe it either.

You will gain weight. Lay off on the Twinkies now doll.

You will always love taking pictures but  you won’t need film anymore.

You will tutor in math. Stop laughing. No, keep laughing because you will hate every second of it and laughing is the only thing that will get you through.

Indiana Jones is still hot.

For one year you will live in the cutest down town apartment with brick walls and wood floors. You will feel like a bird in a tree house and love every second of it.

Max Factor is going to go out of business so buy mascara like it’s the apocalypse baby.

Video stores are going to go out of business too but they will have this thing called “Netflix.”

You know that song by OneRepublic Chris made you listen to? Pay attention; they will become your favorite group.

You will find the world is much bigger than you think and you are wrong about many things.

You will have to say you’re sorry many times.

You will learn to say “I love you” but it will take much longer than you think.

If I could go back I would tell you:

Sleep now. Like, a lot.

Listen more. Talk less.

Breathe in the fresh country air; it will be hard to come by later.

You will get knocked down. You will get hurt. You will feel stupid and ugly. You will get back up.

You are not stupid or ugly.

Those guys you hope will notice you? They aren’t all you think they are. You are fine by yourself and there is a much better guy waiting for you.

You will never stop being afraid you will just learn to push through the fear to accomplish your dreams.

Don’t study so hard in college. Make time for people and build friendships. People will matter long after grades have been forgotten.

Don’t be so sarcastic all the time.

Don’t try to forget where you’re from. Your roots are important and you could never be who you are without them.

In some ways you will be very different. In some ways you will be exactly the same; this is the nature of growing up.

Life is not easy. People are mean. Not all of your dreams will come true.

But

Even though life will not turn out at all as you imagine, it will be fine.

You will be fine.

You will be just fine.

Love,

Your old wrinkled self

{26 Year Old Kari}

P.S. The world is supposed to end this year. I’ll write you in another 10 years and let you know how that goes down.

Night Mail

You want to hear a story? Oh good.

So, the husband and I attended a university where guys and girls still live in separate dorms across campus from each other. You can call it old-fashioned but having separate dorms led to something rather adorable in my book: Night Mail. You see, the guys and girls each had a wooden box rigged up on wheels with a rope on the front to pull it around. In these boxes the students would leave letters and packages addressed to each other and at night, after we were all back in our rooms for curfew, a couple of guys or girls (depending on who’s turn it was) would grab the wooden box and roll it across campus through the dark laughing and giggling about all the love letters and cologne drenched envelopes being sent from one heart to another. Once to the other side of campus, the boxes were exchanged and the letters dropped off in stacks at each of the dormitories. Then a couple more students would take the stacks of letters and slide them under Romeo or Juliet’s door. It was a hoot…and quite romantic, really. I remember how exciting it was when a letter with my name came sliding under the door. I would snatch it up, hop in bed, and pour over the words of the man who would later become my husband. Darren and I now have boxes of letters from our dating days. So much of our relationship is scripted out in the words we wrote back and forth as we came to know and love each other. Darren the artist filled his letters with drawings and illustrations that still make me smile when I come across them. My favorite picture he drew was of me calling him:

The little guy jumping in the air–gets me every time :]

Between night mail and all the time we spent living across the country from each other, written letters became a staple in our relationship–and we still write each other letters today. Sometimes old fashion is the best fashion of all, kids ;]