One of my favourite films stars Bill Murray as a weatherman who, while visiting a small town to report on the festivities taking place to celebrate groundhog day finds himself trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of reliving the same day over and over and over again. He wakes up on the second of February countless times, makes his way through the day working out the various consequences of his small choices, and no matter how that version of the day ends he wakes up once more on the same day to restart exactly where he began.

Groundhog Day, the day, has long been a kind of pseudoscientific celebration where we turn to nature (in the form of a large rodent’s reaction to it’s shadow) as a prediction of the remaining duration of winter weather.

Thanks to the film, Groundhog Day has become shorthand for being stuck in a time loop and being forced to relive what is seemingly the same day over and over and over again as if the universe is testing one’s resolve to find a way to escape and that escape can only come at the cost of self-actualization and some kind of genuine epiphany of the soul.

One word that sums up your
theme for 2021.

grownd - hahg

A groundhog, also known around the world as a woodchuck, is a large rodent who obliviously predicts each year with stunning fifty-fifty accuracy the fate of spring at the hands of fading winter.

I don’t yet know if 2022 will lead to an escape from the endless cycle of seemingly living the same day over and over and over again, but throughout the last three hundred and sixty-odd day, saying that it feels like groundhog day has become our go-to tongue-in-cheek analysis and recurring theme of our feelings of 2021.

Thirty one topics. Thirty one posts. Not exactly a list… but close. In December I like to look back on the year that was. My daily posts in December-ish are themed-ish and may contain spoilers set against the backdrop of some year-end-ish personal exposition.


Three months into writing daily missives here on this blog and it occurred to me that there is one particular word woven through my stories to which I have not given much thought. It is a word with multiple, distinct meanings, and that fact should have been obvious for a guy who writes about the outdoors, cooking, and cast iron cookware.

SEE - zunn

Simply, to flavour or preserve food with salt and spices.

Or… simply, to ready a cooking surface through the application of heat and oils.

Or… simply, the delineation of winter from spring, spring from summer, summer from autumn, and autumn back into winter.

Maybe not so simple?

The etymology of the word season seems to come from the Latin satio, which is itself entwined in the word to sow, or to make something ready.

One readies food to be eaten or a pan to be cooked upon.

Nature readies the world to grow, blossom, produce, and come to life …and then resets itself to make ready all over the next year.

Seasoning is an act of maturation and preparation.

It is purposeful conditioning.

To season is to make something richer and more ready.

These concepts strung together clearly form a broader theme for the things I’ve been thinking about and writing about and sharing here. Three months in, ninety disconnected posts, and some forty thousand words spent has distilled down to one not so simple word: season.

To season. To be seasoned. To welcome the changing seasons. To ready the heart and mind. To sow a space for good food in one’s home. To mellow the harsh cold iron of a skillet against the delicate organic surface of food. To flavour life as one ages one’s mind and soul against the cyclical reset of the universe. To season.

What counts as a “visit” when traveling?

I have a rule about traveling.

Specifically, I have a rule about how I talk about traveling.

When someone asks have you ever visited a place then my response is often… well… technically, that depends… sorta… kinda… here let me explain…

So, here. Let me explain.

I’ve been poking through a lot of travel blogs lately. Thanks to the Twitter algorithm and the types of things I post I get recommended so many accounts that are hashtag-travel, and (I assume) vice versa, because that’s a good fraction of the folks who follow me first. Those blogs tend to fall into two categories:

a) bloggers for money, who are (or who are trying to be) social media influencers, posting lots of gorgeous photos and extensive articles on very specific vacations, and

b) bloggers for passion, who are (often) folks or couples in their 20s living their best life and writing about it while having this goal of “visiting 10 new countries every year” or “visiting 100 countries before I turn 30!”

This second group tends to make me think about my own definition of what constitutes a visit.

To clarify, an example: about five years ago the family and I spent 10 days travelling through Iceland, stopping at numerous small towns and moving on the next morning, eating, drinking, spending, taking lots of photos. Two years ago we had a layover at the airport in Iceland, ate some breakfast at the restaurant there, bought some snacks, and left a few hours later. In my mind, we’ve only visited Iceland once. I don’t count an airport layover as a visit.

Another example: In 2006 or so we did a bus tour of Eastern Europe, one of those Contiki party trips where they shuttle you from city to city, hotel to hotel, bar to bar, and you take lots of pictures, drink yourself silly, and remember the blur twenty years later. Between a hotel in Budapest and a hotel in Krakow, the bus stopped for lunch in a small city in Slovakia. Can I tell people I’ve visited Slovakia? I had a delicious pizza lunch in an old town patio that I still don’t know how we successfully ordered from the waitress who spoke almost no English, but I honestly don’t claim that I’ve “visited” Slovakia. I don’t tend to count it on my list of visited countries.

So this brings me back to my rule about how I talk about traveling.

What counts as a visit for me?

Personally, it’s a basic rule: an overnight, a meal, and time on feet in the street.

If I count a place visited it means I’ve slept there, eaten, and wandered about. None of this “I drove through and stopped for coffee” or “I had a layover at the airport there once” stuff.

What do you count as a visit?