Surprise Trip Home - Ron Lutz II ~ Photographer

A Chance to Go Back



When Teri had to attend a meeting in our old hometown we took as an opportunity to all travel back home together. We kept our trip a secret for the most part as we wanted to surprise my mother, and a few friends. I can't tell you how excited we were to be heading back to our native soil!

After arriving the night before, we headed into Butler in order to surprise my mother. She had no idea we were in town. I even made my typical Sunday morning phone call to her, and spoke about the weather we were having "in Wisconsin," the conditions of which I had to look up online first. On our way there Freja had a great idea.

She suggested we stop and pick up some disguises. Specifically, she wanted us to wear, "those glasses with the nose and mustache." Thankfully they were easy to find in the local Target! Donning our disguises, we walked to Nunna's home from down the block.

Whilst Teri & I hid around the corner, the kid pressed grandma's doorbell. With her hood pulled up, and wearing her disguise, she stood there with a silly grin waiting for Nunna to open the door. When it opened I could hear my mother say, "Yes??? Can I help you?," pause a few seconds, "FREJA????!?!?" She'd recognized her eyes!
In Disguise
Testing the Ice

Back at the Lake!



While seeing my mother was a primary reason for Freja & I to tag along, as well as to see a few friends, I was really excited to spend time at Moraine State Park. This park was established when I was a wee lad, and it's been a part of my life. I cannot tell you how much I've missed seeing it's familiar landscape, smell, and feel.

What was especially great was being able to share being there with family! My sister-in-law, her fiancé, as well as my sister, and niece all came out to the lake to spend time playing on the ice. Being able to simply take it all in once again really seemed to recenter my soul, and ease my mind. I've not felt the touch of "cabin fever," that had been making me batty ever since returning to this great park.
Say Cheese

Seeing Friends



We also were able to spend some time with friends. While Teri was in her meeting, and Freja played at Nunna's home, I got to hang out with Mark & family at their coffee shop/art gallery DV8, located in Greensburg. These are the folks who introduced us back in 2006, and were also my neighbors for the last few years that we lived in Pennsylvania. Once upon a time, Mark & I worked together at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Being able to simply sit, and talk about everything, and anything, was a true treat for me. Not only with Mark, but also the few hours I got to spend with Steven. He and I met when I was around 12 years old, so it's pretty safe to say he's indeed my oldest friend! Being away from them has not always been easy for me, as I always enjoyed being able to talk to them about not only important things, but also a lot of dumb things. Trust me, if you get to know me, you'll know how I enjoy talking about dumb things, especially after a beer or two...

Seeing them was as cathartic as my time on the lake!

And of course, we all marveled at how much each other's kids had grown! Mark's youngest is now taller then he. Freja was particularly interested in having a cup of whipped cream, as she used to when she was much smaller. There's a three year gap between the next two photos! When we moved they gave her one of those espresso cups, and saucer which she uses to this day to drink her honeyed tea.

The Family



While running around a lake, and seeing friends was awesome, the real highlight was being able to simply spend time with family. Since there was so much running back and forth between Greensburg and the Butler area, which is about a 3-hour round-trip, we really tried to narrow down the scope of activities. It was so tempting to try to see additional friends, but one week just didn’t provide as enough time.

My sister traveled in with my niece, Affina. Seeing Freja play with her cousin, and how amazingly well they got along together really made the trip special. As I watched them play along the drainage ditch my father had dug (he was still in Florida while we were there), I couldn't help but enjoy how their imaginations seemed to mesh. The dubbed the ditch "The River," and both thought it was the most beautiful thing ever. I'd bet they'll both remember playing along it, and on the little bridge that spans it, for a long time. It seemed to be their "place" away from us adults. On the last day, when we asked them to stay out of the mud as their boots were packed and we'd be hitting the road soon, I eventually relented, allowing them to go play there one last time.
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Familar Scenes



So, while we weren't there very long, it was enough to sustain us. Having spent time with family, laughing with friends, and having enjoyed the familiar face of the land we're all in a seemingly better, happier frame of mind. Where we'd been starting to ache for the warmth of spring to melt the snows, and to abolish cabin fever, we've all now a bounce to our step. We'd tasted the spring air back home, and now the first signs are showing up here. Soon things will be warm outside, matching the warmth we've felt on the inside stemming from the love we experienced back home.

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