Sunday Drive

comments: 81




















Over the river and through the woods we go to get our tree. Breakfast high on the cliff above the river, and a short drive further to the little farm. We don't chop our trees down ourselves. We just buy one of the ones that are already cut at the farm for $10 then go on the hayride around the field, twice. The hayride's the thing. Amelia squinting at the sun, pointing at the trees, wobbling on the bales, calling, "Wheeeee! Wheeeeeeeeee!" as we bump and rumble through the field. It smells good out there, fresh and green and cold. It's very cold. We drive a bit further on to see the sheep (which say, "Baaaaaaaaaaaaa! Baaaaaaa!" She does an uncanny impression). The late-afternoon sun is flaring through the moss-covered trees, which always makes me cry. The impossibly huge, impossibly white moutain gleams behind us. We wiggle back through the woods, nothing else to do. We turn up the music, take detours over hills and dales, feel old and new. My love runs into Starbucks and brings back hot chocolates. It's Sunday, and I'm Sunday driving, with a little tree in the back of the car and a little girl singing in her baby voice to herself in the back seat. I'd go around twice, if I could.

Let it begin, let it begin: The Christmas season is here. I found Milla's post (and its comments) very poignant. I think I was meant to be Finnish. I'm channeling Finnish Christmas. It's funny how Christmas makes you want things — things that have nothing to do with money. Our yard is dark with mud and muck. Bee the cat is sleeping in Amelia's sled, the one that's layered in buffalo-check polarfleece and hiding in the office until we go to the snow. My friend tells me about the ice-skating party she was invited to. There were kids, dogs, cocoa, and a bonfire. I howled with envy. Do you want to build a snowman? Yes, I do!

I cultivate a collection of candles. I make too many runs up to Pip's for cinnamon mini-doughnuts and their (quite awesome) chai (Heart of Gold) in the pouring rain. Amelia stands on her changing table in her pajamas and we look at the bright winter moon out her nursery window. The window is cold, condensation drifting like frost. "Bubbles," she says of the drops of water, and pulls her tiny finger along the glass. Goodnight tree. Goodnight stars. Goodnight moon. In the big bed, I listen to her snore softly beside me. I pull her hair out of her mouth, tuck her under the quilts, snuggle close. I say my prayers: Let me give. It's all here. Go slow, winter. Go slow.



Beautiful photos! Loved seeing Mimi, Clover, Andy and {!} Alicia.

Abbey Harder says: December 05, 2014 at 06:35 PM

I love the feeling of slowness and quiet that comes from reading your posts. The simple joys that you write about are similar to those I enjoy with my own family and it causes me to smile.

She's all of a sudden a little girl. Where's the baby? What a lovely, memory-making Sunday you had. Snuggle snug.

You have such beautiful posts and amazing pictures! I love the hat your little one is wearing (the pale pink one). By chance is it a pattern you could share? Merry Christmas!

What a beautiful family you are! Thanks for introducing me to Milla's blog, I added it to my blogroll and have been browsing it for the past thirty minutes!!

I remember (and miss) those bundles of love on my lap--your expression says it all! My favorite photo--besides all of them--is the one with the blue lights! EPIC.

Two days ago it was my birthday. Too sick, I'd cancelled my ice-skating-birthday-with-forest-themed-feast that I'd been preparing for weeks in advance. But I did have a job interview on my birthday. So I took the ferry across the dark cold water to an island, and caught a shuttle driven by a very nice man named Larry who keeps bees, and then walked in a long drive through some woods to a majestic old residence that houses the offices where I was interviewing. The sun was shining as I walked in, and the last of the snow that dusted Western Washington five days earlier was still hanging around (it would be gone by evening). And just around one bend, there it was: a slender, feathery young evergreen, maybe 15 feet tall, growing up in a little glade in the shadows of its elders, its feet completely coated in a thick blanket of moss that covered all the ground. A beam of weak yellow sun had pierced through the branches overhead and illuminated this little tree, shining in a green glade. Like you, I choked up. I thought, "It's your birthday, Sarah, and here is a gift."

This blog is a gift, too - one that I'm grateful for all year round. May your days be merry and bright, Alicia. Thanks for another year of sharing all the magic that love can bring to the world.

I cannot help but notice how beautiful Amelia looks similar to her equally beautiful parents! Isn't that magical?

oh... wow ...that's just amazing....

I sure hope you'll write a book one day - you have a magic way of writing and I love the description whether it is about nature or your lovely little girl. I'm a grandma now, but I love how to explain and talk about her and I can remember feeling those things too - the wonder of it all - kid, holidays, a stroll, etc... the simple things! Happy Holidays and thank you for inspiration and your lovely crafts (which I need to hurry up and make...)!

Absolutely stunning photo's. Your blog is always an absolute pleasure to read, gorgeous tree and such a cosy Christmassy scene :) x

Well then, welcome to the family. I really do wish we could all ease our Christmas selves into calm, dark, sweet days. I think relishing this dark time of the year, as we slog towards winter Solstice, can be really magical if we let ourselves just be quiet and calm and crafty and introverted. Maybe that's what it's all about. Hope you have a lovely time of it, cousin ;)

oh and I was going to say too that your straw ornaments definitely fit the Finn bill, that's a lovely tree. Thank you again!

I live in Portland, too. Would you mind sharing the farm where you got your tree? The hayride sounds so fun. We usually go out to Sauvie Island which is wonderful, but I'm not aware of any farms out there that give hayrides this time of year.

I always get so excited when I see an email in my inbox of your new post. Such comfort and inspiration in words and photos! Thank you!

I don't know if I've told you before, but your blog is one of my very favorite places on the internet. So much warmth, always so much warmth. I like to make sure I have a cup of coffee or tea before I visit.
This post brought tears to my eyes. This season *does* make you want things. My children are 5.5 and very nearly 3. I find myself savoring the moments and just wanting to hold on to this time when they are so young and everything is just magic.
Thank you for sharing, Alicia. <3

Alicia, that was stunning. "Let me go around twice." I love seeing a photo of you, so I have a more clear picture of where to send the love and light. Besides to the blue of Amelia's eyes.

My 14 year-old voted the chai at Pip's the absolute best -- and she has tried chai all over Europe! Every time someone here talks about Portland she mentions Pips and Fremont. I think Fremont is now the only street in Portland she officially knows, like deep in her heart knows -- well, that and Hawthorne, I just remembered. I can't remember the name of the nutella one, but that's her mini doughnut.

I love the picture of Andy and Amelia with the lights in the background. But are they in the zoo train? Or is that at the farm?

The coat looks like a Vertbaudet -- very French, anyway.

I love the Portland-style woodwork in your house. I wish we had that over in Europe!

Happy Advent!

scrolling slowly photo after photo as the beauty unfolds … and even a sneak peak of you … how lovely … then i make it to the last line and can't help but well up with tears … so rich and full ...

Alicia - it's so funny you mentioned you just get a $10 tree. I've admired your trees for years, and as I've never had a real tree before I assumed they were pricey. This year, with having the baby now, I had a meltdown about how we HAD to have a real tree for the holidays and I ended up getting a sweet little tree despite already having 2 artificial trees up in the house already!

And YES to that "traditions" post! "It feels handmade, instead of store-bought." This sums up exactly why I've been in such a crafting mood lately - that's how I want the holidays to feel!

I think your daughter and husband look marvelous and you toooo...You are so talented and live in the country and amongst nature, you must be a wonderful human being! Happy Haunkkah, the long nights and dark evenings make me wistfully long for sun but not the heat and humidity and long long sunshine this past year. No it does not, I just like some sunshine and the ability to get out and without the dadblasted rain and wind and soon snow and ice..Happy Holidays, I like to think a holiday is everyday when one can enjoy nature and also to be able to do what you can do creatively it is a big gift in life, also to think of others who are hungry, homeless and jobless..I really really do!

Alicia, I just love your photos! They have so much feeling to them. I also think you need to write a novel. You paint such a wonderful picture with your words! I always look forward to your posts! :-)

Aren't we all at heart trying to recreate the happy Christmases of our own childhood, with whatever very family specific traditions that involved? I know my family Christmas was all in the build up and the preparations, the cooking, the singing and all the wonderful moments of tinsel and expectation where H's family were all about the moments of family between Christmas and New Year, when time stood still and the whole family seemed to be in happy hibernation - luckily that's made it pretty easy to meld our two traditions, but it's never been about the things - it never is really - but about taking the time to make it ours and wonderful.

I had a finnish christmas many years ago as an exchange student. It felt similar and yet not similar to my Oregon Christmases (more snow for one). I've been blessed with a family who values handmade and taking time to enjoy the season. I found this to be true in Finland as well. From baking treats to share with neighbors to making german stars out of paper and then dipping in wax to make ornaments for the tree.
Most of my adult life has been spent working in the shipping business where the holiday roars in and doesn't let up until mid-January. Working until the wee hours of Christmas eve, it requires an almost super-human attitude to enjoy the Christmas season. From finding time to direct my neighborhood children in caroling to baking traditional goodies. We don't spend a lot of money at Christmas, we've never had or needed that kind of money. We do spend time with our families and friends. You have to be pretty grounded to enjoy the American holiday season. Most people in Finland celebrated this way. Most people in America do not. Most people in America don't even take the time to know their neighbors. I would say the major difference is to enjoy the time spent with loved ones. To do things together.
I will say that my host-sister in Finland does not do this. Her kids have been raised like most american kids - on their devices. I believe this is becoming the norm there as well.
Doing things together cannot be done in one afternoon. It requires a conscience thought to make something a tradition.

I love that your family takes walks most weekends, heading to different places as well as close-by favorites. That's a tradition worth doing.

robbie jones says: December 06, 2014 at 06:35 PM

its great to see you in front of the camera!! should be more often! :)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at