Christmas Lights Across The Hollow



12-11-2017 Magic Moment:


Full dark comes early this time of year. The sunlight is always slanting, even at high noon. I do miss those long summer days spreading out like warm golden honey from horizon to horizon. Now that the leaves are gone from all the deciduous trees, we can see the three houses across the hollow. I stepped out onto the porch after dinner, turning off the light so I could see into the darkness and absorb the starlight. I noticed through the bare trees colored lights twinkling in the darkness. The houses across the hollow have Christmas light up, cheerful and bright. I stand and gaze at them from afar until the chill creeps in. Joyful lights to brighten our hearts in the cold darkness of winter.




Barefoot In The Snow

12-10-2017 Magic Moment:

I have a (what some people might think is a bit crazy) tradition of going (ever so briefly) barefoot in the snow. When the mood strikes me, usually only once a season and usually early on in the season before the ground is frozen solid. When there is the right amount of snow; more than a dusting but not more that a few inches deep, I like to plant my bare feet into the freezing fluffy white stuff. Sometimes I run around the yard, or sometimes just stand still until the aching cold becomes too painful to endure. I then run back inside and warm my feet up by the fire

I think this tradition originated in college. I was a little Florida girl going to school in the mountains of West Virginia. On the first snow fall of the first winter, I woke in my dorm room at dawn, through the window saw the fresh snow on the ground, excitedly jumped out of bed and ran outside into the commons wearing nothing but my night gown. I ran through the grass in my bare feet joyfully shouting “It’s Snowing!”. Groggy angry yells from other dorm rooms of “Shut up!” greeted my jubilation. I ran to the neighboring dorm to tell my best friend. She, having grown up in a suburb of DC was less than enthusiastic when I cam bustling into her room full of exuberance over the snow. Her reply was had words like messy, sloppy, slippery, cold, wet, and go back to sleep in it. Undaunted, I ran back outside and frolicked, quietly this time, in the snow until my brain finally realized that snow was indeed, wet, cold, and slippery. My bare feet were numb and walking was difficult up the stairs back to my room where I took a long hot shower to thaw out.

This morning, the mood struck, and I stepped out onto the snow dusted porch in my bare feet. They screamed at the cold abuse. Knowing I would not be satisfied with just the snow on the porch I walk down the stair to the yard. Standing there, the burning cold penetrating the very core of my feet, gazing up into the low grey sky, snow flakes landing on my face, I could smell the living smell of cold wet earth, the smell of earthy cold wet snow falling onto dead leaves, and bare branches. Birds are chattering in the trees along the road, the creek is burbling down the hill, and a snow plow is rumbling in the distance. The intense coldness numbing my feet brought on a memory so strong, it felt like it was actually happening. I was standing on the put in ramp for the first rafting trip of the season, knee deep in snow, neoprene covered feet already frozen numb before we even get to the water, early spring rapids roaring in the distance through the still leafless forest. I breath deeply, wet cold air energizing my lungs and snap back to here and now. Got to get these frigid tootsies back inside!

Back To Work!

12-9-2017 Magic Moment:

Once again, I get ready for work and head over to the ski slope. Yes, it is really the first day of work this time! Walking into the Children’s Center, it’s good to see everybody again and get my work station all set up. We don’t have very many rentals today, so I hang up all the giant glitter snowflake decorations I made last year, spreading glitter cheer literally everywhere. I also have to recreate and re-save the forms I use for keeping track of all the kids and gear from day to day as them seem to have been wiped from the computer over the summer. I show my new technician how to set up the skis and how to use and read the settings chart. I eventually make the rounds, heading over the HR to day Hi and to Special Events to talk about this season’s snowshoeing schedule. This first days are never very busy so it’s home early for me! Not having actually worked in over three months, I am ready to go home. It’s nice to be able to ease into the season, Christmas break is coming and that will be crazy busy! Today was a good day for going back to work!

Waterfall And Lean-To

12-8-017 Magic Moment:

My husband came with me on this sunny but cold late fall day on a short hike up to Westkill Falls. It is only about a mile into the woods, but he had never been here before. This waterfall is one of my favorite “secret”spots. The water is crystal clear and bone numbing cold. The trail is at the top of the falls, so you have to scramble down a steep cliff to get to the water. At its base is a is a small pool ranging from about thigh deep directly under the cascade to ankle deep where the water continues into rapids downstream. One side of the falls is a narrow chute where the water tumbles noisily over the rocks. The other side is a rippling translucent curtain free falling from about 20 feet up creating a veil that hides a moss covered grotto on a ledge behind it. There is also a perfectly flat rock for lounging on where I like to sit to read or dream. I have spent several summer solstices relaxing here, although it has been more than a year since my last visit. After exploring the falls, we kept hiking up to Diamond Notch, passing the lean-to along the way. We explored the area around the lean-to as well, as it is situated on the edge of a steep gully that works it way down from the notch. Up at the top, the trail edges along a steep slope covered by rock slide. It loos as if the earth could shift at any moment, but it is fascinating to be on one side of a mountain and see where the water would flow one way, then take two steps and be on the other side of a mountain and see how the water would flow in the opposite direction. One can stand at the beginning of two drainage basins at the same time! It’s exciting like standing in two states at the same time, but a state line is often an arbitrary phantom line created by people, whereas water drainages are created by topography, and erosion, forces beyond us that dwarf the human scale. I am humbled by the awesome grandeur of it all.

Eagles In The Creek

12-7-2017 Magic Moment:

I went for a walk down the road today. It turned into more of a meander as I wandered off through the neighboring field to get a closer look at a new beaver dam. It is a typical late fall day, cold blustery air, sun playing hide and seek with low clouds. I fill my pockets with eye catching rocks as I stumble along the loose footing jumble of rocks that is the creek bed. Back up on the road, I am lost in my own world, walking through an evergreen tree tunnel. I notice movement on a wide rock bar down in the creek. Two glossy crows take flight, spreading their wings and catching air currents that lift them above the trees and out of sight, their caws echoing out of hearing. Then I see two more birds take flight, huge and cumbersome near the ground, giant broad wings flapping smoothly to gain height, then gliding effortlessly as they catch the moving air, their dappled brown and white bodies seem immense as the slide by me while I stand gawking at their silent passage. They are two immature bald eagles, flying so close I could almost reach out to touch them through the trees. To confirm my guess, another movement catches my attention, a third bald eagle, head and tail flashing bright luminous white through the dark evergreen bows. I guess this is mom or dad, as it banks, glides sideways and lands gracefully in a leafless tree across the creek. She/ he calls out a screeching squawking cry. The two immature eagles turn in flight, one lands nearby, the other disappears from my sight in jumble of tree branches. I stand a watch this eagle family for a long time. Neighbors had told me they saw an eagle all summer down here. There must be an active and successful nest hidden in the forest somewhere near here. There is wonder and beauty all around us, we just need to slow down and pay attention!

Fairy Baubles Come Down

12-6-2017 Magic Moment:

Up in the woods beside our house is a flat rock that sticks out of the hillside. We call it our patio rock, and every spring we set up a cafe table, two chairs, and an umbrella. It is a sweet place to sit quietly, drink coffee, and watch the world go by, yet be unnoticed by it. I like to hang brightly colored glass baubles, light catchers, and wind chimes in the trees around the rock. I call them fairy baubles because when you sit in the middle of them all, it’s like being in a fairy world. I hang them all up in the spring and take them all down before winter sets in. Today, they all came down. My husband actually prompted me to get to it because he took in the patio set and told me many of the baubles were on the ground from the recent wind storms we’ve had. Its a quiet day, slightly drizzling, no one out hunting, so the woods are full of late fall noises instead of gunshots. I methodically, pull the curios out of the trees and search for fallen ones in the damp leaves. The chimes jangle loudly as I carry them over to their winter container. I am ready for winter now. All the fall yard stuff is done, the boats are in storage under the house, and I am ready for snow to cover the ground for its winter slumber. I take solace in watching the season slowly change. There is peace and serenity in every changing robes of Mother Nature.

Big Wind In The Hollow

12-5-2017 Magic Moment:

Standing at the bottom of the steps looking out over the brown and grey leafless trees across the road, down in the creek, over the field, and up the steep hill across the way. It’s a blustery day, partly cloudy, sunlight chasing cloud shadows through the swaying forest. For the moment the air surrounding me is still, but I can hear a tendril of wind rustling from far off. The sound grows, intensifies, rushes into furious noise on the hill across the hollow. I see the branches on the trees on the hill crest flail madly as the frenzied wind violently thrashes, a loud roar rolls down the hillside. I see and hear the advance of the raging wind. Anticipation thrums through my veins, vibrating on my skin. Trees in the creek swing and sway, twigs and leaves swirl madly, yet the air right here at the house twenty feet away is calm. I wait for the onslaught, to be inside the maelstrom, for the wind to whisk my hair into tangles and throw dirt in my face. The groaning roar grows even louder as I see the first tendrils of wind touch the road. Then it quickly fades to a whisper as blows up the hollow away from me. The air right where I am standing barely even stirred. Wow!