Well, that was a lovely little break. Of course, we picked one of the coldest weekends of the year to go up to a cabin in the northernmost part of Minnesota. (It was below zero pretty much the whole time, and as we were packing up to go on Sunday the temperature was around -20. That's NOT including windchill.) I slept in head-to-toe polar fleece underneath 5 blankets and a down comforter, and the thermostat had a hard time keeping up with the blizzard-level winds coming through the chinks in the walls. But it didn't matter. We kept cozy with a fire going in the fireplace and the wood stove, and talked and listened to cheesy 80s music, and danced tipsily around the living room, and read trashy novels and even trashier magazines, and drank wine and ate junkfood and just generally caroused. You know, there aren't many people with whom I'd want to be stuck in a remote cabin in the woods for 48+ hours. But - surprisingly - these three women make the cut. I say "surprisingly" because I'm not sure any of us would have predicted, four years ago, that we'd keep up this yearly tradition. We all used to work at the same corporation (only one of us is still there) and were drawn together by a variety of experiences. We've kept in touch over the years, but it's not like we see each other often - in fact, I hadn't seen one of the group for nearly a year. And we're all very different personalities, with strong opinions that we're not afraid of expressing. I imagine someone looking at us from the outside wouldn't guess that we're well suited to spend isolated weekends together. But we really are: we never run out of things to talk about; we can get into arguments without anyone taking it personally; we're all good at sharing the cooking and cleaning chores; and we can all let each other be when needed. And (perhaps more importantly) we're also damned interesting, witty, fun and nice. This is our third year of having a "retreat" (we skipped last year because of scheduling and babies) and it's an emerging tradition that I really hope lasts as long as we can manage it. Because friends like that are rare finds.