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  • Writer's pictureNicole Olsen

Our Special Corner of the World

Jedediah's family cabin in Utah has always been one of the nicer perks to marrying him. I loved it the moment I saw it when he brought me there for our first Christmas together. All the beds were taken, so I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor amongst the younger Olsen cousins, who are now all grown up and off to college.

Since then our family has made countless memories there. When the kids were little I waited in anticipation all year for our annual visits to Huntsville, but as the years went on and our lives got busier, the trips to Utah happened less frequently. So I am so happy to report that today's post comes from our special corner of the world in Huntsville, Utah.

Every morning I head out to the hammock, shaded and held up between two trees. The pine was once a Christmas tree from Jeanne's childhood, planted here by her father who built the cabin we all love. My book is sitting on the hammock where I left it yesterday. My page marked with a green leaf peering out above the spine. Today I am reading "All the Pretty Horses," and I wonder how many books I have completed from these exact coordinates.

When my children were younger, they would always find me, and all three would pull themselves up on the hammock to climb over me like a jungle gym, loud and disruptive but cute and cuddly. We would do the hammock tango, moving our bodies around until all of us found a comfortable position to fall asleep. My kids are much older now and no longer all fit with me, but I am still anticipating their arrival at any moment. One or two may try to lie with me for a few moments, but they are far too energetic for relaxing under the trees, and so I will hold them and kiss them while they try to squirm away, then plead with them to swing me before they run off looking for more exciting adventures.

From my vantage point, floating above the grass, I can see the mountain Jedediah and I climbed with friends the day after our wedding. Below that is the pond, that looks like grass, but is really water covered in vibrant green algae. When Sebastian was 3 or 4, he fell into the pond while searching for Blue's Clues. I was there to pull him out still clutching his handy dandy notebook, but the experience was terrifying.

To the right, I can see the exact spot Jedediah and I took our vows amongst family and friends watching from rows of chairs set up on the lawn. Jedediah's nervous uncle officiated while we shared vows that were filled with optimism and companionship.

Behind me is the deck, a massive structure that is a newer addition to the property. I can recall the boys young and in diapers their mouths vibrant red from the cherry astro bars they stole for breakfast. As my mind wanders and my hammock swings, my eyes get heavy, and I fall into a light sleep despite the day just beginning.

I will be startled back awake by my children who will want to play crocket in the front yard, a game we will play another five times at least before the sun sets. At the cabin, there is no internet, no air conditioning, very little time spent watching tv or on devices, so playing multiple rounds of lawn games is the routine here. Jedediah usually wins, but I feel a winning streak coming on if only I get green, my lucky color.

The stream across the street is much more suitable than the pond for wading. Every visit we attempt to catch a fish, the kids are always very motivated for a max of five minutes before calling it quits, complaining that there are no fish here. I collect their poles and try not to be annoyed that it took me 30 minutes to get everything ready, but at least no one got hooked, or I didn't have to spend the next 20 minutes untangling a mess of fishing line.

When they were younger, the ankle deep stream entertained them for hours, but now they need more danger, so we head further up the road to Cossey Damn to paddle board and cliff jump. In my more youthful day's cliff jumping was my favorite, and I fully expected nothing to have changed. We paddle out in the deep dark green waters around the bend. From my paddle board the cliffs look not so tall and I encourage my boys to go for it. They have never attempted something so daring, and are doubtful of my encouragement to jump. They stand at the edge with fear in their eyes, and I egg them on until they finally leap. When it is my turn, I remember, while starring at the water that now seems much further down, how terrifying and exciting this is. I must be taking too long because the boys are screaming at me to JUMP! The crash of the water takes my breath away. It's exhilarating.

Back at the cabin, Holden impresses his grandfather with his sharpshooting on the BB guns, a skill assuredly gained from the countless hours of playing Call of Duty. The target range that was once a few cans is now many rows of stacked objects, all of which make a specific noise when struck. It is Holden's birthday in a few days and although he has spoken for months of nothing else but getting a hamster, he throws it out there that a BB gun would be an acceptable substitution.

Howard hands me the air rifle and assures the kids that I am quite the target shooter myself. Although it has been ages since I have held a gun, perks of growing up a cop's daughter, it feels familiar, and I hit the paper target as the kids cry out in glee.

The evenings are for board games and card games, sometimes hours of us sitting at a table trying our best to take each other out and win at whatever is sprawled out on the table before us. All familial courtesies are suspended, and I quickly find myself the target of my children's ire after a few skillful wins. Jedediah takes winning very seriously, and his children take after him in this regard.

We will celebrate two birthdays here this trip, which means making cake. The ancient cabin stove always seems to flop my best attempts at bakery. It is a drill we are all too familiar with since we have celebrated everyone's birthday at least once at the cabin. Eating flat or soggy cake that I've tried to disguise with frosting and candles is a birthday tradition at the cabin.

There are so many experiences we have had up here in the Monte Cristo mountains: jet skiing, tubing, snowmobiling, 4-wheeling, hiking, sledding, and biking. But it will all have to wait for another visit. After Jedediah's birthday, it is time to leave for Virginia. We have been gone for over a month, and everyone is excited to go home, even if it means a 4 am wake up call to catch a 6-hour flight.

We end our last evening at the cabin with one final game of crocket; winner takes all. All the balls are in play, and the match is long. The kids ride on the swings between turns. Jedediah, Jeanne, and Howard are early contenders. Their balls have become poison, and they are ready to take out the rest of the competition, but then out of nowhere like a snake in the grass Nicole with green takes them all down for the win, becoming 2017 Champion of the Cabin.

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