Christopher writes about a winter trip to Buffalo with Isabella, and the joy of connecting with family.

One of my favorite places in the city of Buffalo is the hill behind the Rose Garden next to Delaware Park Lake. It’s a beautiful spot, regardless of the season. Part of the park system built by the Olmsted Brothers, it’s all green grass and trees in the spring and summer, and white, white, white in winter. In spring, it’s one of the places winter-weary residents flock to enjoy the outdoors again after their long hibernation, and in fall the brilliant hues of the trees ringing the lake cloak the area in a beauty unparalleled in the city.

It’s a place with an almost endless number of memories for me. As a kid, my friends and I would grab sleds and bum a ride from our parents to brave the wide hill, mythic and huge to us. As a teen and into college, Mark and I liked to grab our cross country skis and circle the lake, or sneak a cheap jug of wine and watch Shakespeare in the Park with friends on a long, hot summer night. After college I was acting in those plays myself.

Last week, on a quick mid-winter trip to Buffalo with Isabella, she and I bundled ourselves up, threw the sled in the car, and headed off to the park. It was just as I had remembered: cold, white, and beautiful. Perfect. With great gusto, a not uncommon mode for Isabella when it comes to physical activity, the sled was down, we jumped on, and flew. She laughed with great abandon, and as soon as we reached bottom she was up and off, hurrying back to the top, barely pausing to call “C’mon daddy!” over her shoulder.


Our trip to Buffalo was just four days long, and despite Isabella’s constant wishing and hoping, we did not get stranded there due to weather. While colleagues from work texted photos of beaches and Disneyland, I basked in the perfect trifecta of winter sports: sledding, cross country skiing, and ice-skating. Isabella was introduced to the original wings at Anchor Bar, and we were both introduced to one of Buffalo’s hip new downtown restaurants. Of course there was a huge family dinner and a rousing game of Apples to Apples, my nephew’s favorite.

There were quiet moments as well. Delicious late mornings drinking coffee and chatting with Mom and Dad in the kitchen while we stared at snow falling over the lake. Some writing time with mom. A late-night viewing of the movie Grandma, a rare non-action flick that Isabella most likely only agreed to because it was rated R.

Mom and I reminisced about how she had taken me to see the Woody Allen flick A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy when I was Isabella’s age. Neither film was quite appropriate for a 12 year-old. The saving grace was the conversation Mom and I had with Isabella the following day, discussing the main character’s choice to have an abortion, the grandmother’s crass but fiercely loyal support, and the best laugh lines.

Back in Seattle, winter is gone. The cherry trees are budding pink in our yard, and my seasonal allergies have kicked in. The season changed here while we were away, but not so in Buffalo. The forecast for this coming week says 30s and snow. When we return this summer, it will be warm and sunny. And there will be new memories to make.