Now that the outdoor commitment has ended, I’ve started a new blog.

Please visit upwoods.wordpress.com and read Lake Superior Spirit.

Thank you for all your support!!

Flying away

I can’t believe this is the last night.

The last night to sit here at this computer and tell you stories about the day’s outdoor adventures. 

How quickly a year passes!

One minute you’re dancing around a bonfire mouthing the words “I’m going to go outside every day for 365 days and write a blog every day about what happens!” and the next minute you’re sitting weepy-eyed at your computer thinking back on the entire year.

I don’t even know how to adequately wrap it up into a nice little package.  How to end it.  How to thank all of you readers enough.  I don’t even know how I’m going to get up tomorrow and not have one to three hours of outdoor commitment and blogging.  It’s going to be a new doorway, a new chapter in life.  And it’s hard…because this chapter has been so precious.

Immature bald eagle on our road yesterday

A friend asked: What did you learn this year?  How has your outdoor commitment changed you?

This is a hard question to answer.  I will try my best to answer it here.

I learned that succeeding in a commitment involves something stronger than one’s thoughts and feelings.  Our thoughts and feelings are like weather.  One minute we want to do something; the next minute we don’t.  If we want to succeed in a commitment, we must follow something deeper and stronger than our surface thoughts and emotions.  In my case, I challenged myself  to go outside everyday.  Since that wasn’t the easiest or more natural path (although during the warm months I already probably went outside as much or more than most people) I linked it to something I loved–blogging.  When you want to change a behavior, connect it to something you love.  It will help you. Also, for me, publically announcing this intent proved paramount.  There was no way I could go back on my commitment after all you folks knew about it!

Little waterfall near the Eagle Pond

I learned how to see better this year through the lens of the camera.  To capture the miracles of nature, to see deeper, to view wider vistas.  The camera has become a second eye, always sweeping the landscape, always searching for new and interesting sights.  Before this year, I belittled the camera.  (Oh, shame, Kathy!) Belittled folks who would spend hours hidden behind the camera lens instead of experiencing the world directly.  (Beware what you scorn!  You, too, may be soon be in the same position.)  I am wondering what this next week will bring.  Will I drop the camera, forget about it, return to pre-photography days?  Or will it stay a second eye, a second skin, another way of viewing the world?

The Huron Bay through leaves

The two biggest challenges proved:  1)  going outside and staying outside when I didn’t want to be outside and 2) relaxing enough to be confident that there would be something to write about each evening.   My husband writes a weekly column for the local newspaper.  He struggles to come up with enough inspiration to write something every week; he said he can’t imagine how one could write something every day for a year.  It WAS challenging.  But, funny thing, something always presented itself.  Something always came forth.  So often I would empty my mind and sit at the computer and simply watch something larger than myself writing the story.  Even on the one day when nothing came to mind (and no photographs presented themselves) a story came forth about not having anything to write.  It was amazing!

Underwater green in December!

The most amazing thing, to me, has been the support and love of friends and family.  (Darn, crying again…)  You readers have enriched my life so very much.  I can’t even begin to thank you enough for stopping by, for commenting, for sending emails, for cheerleading.  For the family members with whom we have deepened our love and connection, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I have also made friends across the world, special friends who send Christmas cards and books and emails and other gifts.  You don’t know how much your simple presence and accompaniment has meant.  YOU are all so special and unique and wonderful….thank you from my whole being.

Single dried wildflower over icy bay

Here’s a quick story (see!  I’m having trouble finishing today’s blog) to illustrate something that I’ve learned this year.  Today I walked through deep snow down to the bay.  On the way back, two choices presented themselves. Either I walk the “easy” way along the established path…or wade down to a little creek, jump across, and view the back of the pond.

Most of me wanted to just continue on the easy path, but it looked like there were new and interesting places to explore on the other side of the creek.  So I slid down the snowy hill and leapt across the creek. 

That is my wish for all of you:  when faced with the easy paths, choose to jump across more creeks.  Choose to try something a little difficult, to venture off the beaten path, to risk getting your feet wet.  You can do it.  And your rewards will be…more than you ever suspected. 

If  I decide to start another blog, I will link it on this WordPress page. Blessings to all of you as we approach the Winter Solstice tomorrow.  May you feel inspired to listen to the Earth’s teachings.  Thank you again for everything you have contributed to the outdoor commitment.  One person doesn’t make a commitment alone–we are all enriched by the support of our family and friends.

Day 364 of the outdoor commitment.

Question to various relatives:  which blogs did you like best?  

Various relatives:  Oh no!  Which ones…?  We don’t know.  Ummm, let us think.  We’ll get back to you. 

Tonight’s entry involves reporting to you all the answers thus far received.  We’ll start with my husband, Barry.  He voted for every single “action” blog.  He liked the outdoor adventures where we did things together, where we explored Baraga County and the surrounding area (he loved Duluth back in July!)  This commitment has really been precious because we spent so much time together in the Great Outdoors, visiting places we have ignored in the past 20-30 years since we became so “busy” with everyday life. 

His votes:  The Slate Quarry blog (also known as The blog has had a big day today), Backwoods Adventure to the “Million Dollar railroad” and all the fishing adventures including Hey I caught a fish!  (Please click on any of the links to view the old posts.) 

Yep, caught a fish.

 Christopher, our son, voted for the crazed robin blogs, the ones where they pecked incessantly at our windows for months, including Crazed robin and stalking the first wildflower and The danger of philandering husbands.  He also liked This blog is going to the dogs where those neighborhood dogs hounded in on my walk.  And, finally, his sociologist side really enjoyed Horizon Envy, written in late November. 

The robin that made US crazy!

 Kiah, our daughter, liked the very first Solstice blog (because she was there when we lit the bonfire and stated our yearly intentions!)  She also voted for all the travel blogs, which included trips to New York City (see 5/19-5/22 including Opening the door, going down 15 floors in the elevator, saying goodbye to the doorman and walking outside, Fort Myers Beach, Florida, Duluth, my hometown of Yale, Georgia and San Diego.  Did I remember them all?  Another favorite of hers:  What is nature anyway?  (I liked that, too.) 

Sad Panda in Manhattan (didn't we love this Sad Panda, Kiah?)

 My parents didn’t want to list any particular blogs but my mom wrote this:  ” My favorite blogs were all of them that had you with family members across the nation and the related pictures.  A snapshot (pun) look back at your blogs in general is a kaleidoscope of exceptionally beautiful pictures which run through my mind all the time!” 

My mother-in-law liked the Duluth series (7/12 – 7/14 including “We go Duluth” and Duluth: Take Two.  You may not want to swim there quite yet) She also really liked the Pow Wow blogs If you listen to the Pow Wow drums you will never be the same and Farewell Pow Wow.  Until next year.  She (and Kiah) also voted for the more recent one about the Santas and Snowmen:  Dear Kids, The Santas and Snowmen opened the door and walked outside! 

Beautiful little girls in pink at the Pow Wow

And now, you might be wondering which blogs I liked.  Oh, that is a dangerous question.  A very dangerous question indeed.  How can a mother choose one child over another?  How can we choose one blog over another?  Each was special in its own way.  Some caused laughter, some caused tears.  Some proved easy to write; others hard.  They were all so unique. 

Nonetheless, because this blog has forced me to review many of the 365 days…I will offer you a FEW of my favorite ones.  (All you other blogs, please do not pout.  I love you, too.)  

OK, here’s my secret.  I have a special fondness for the philosophical/spiritual blogs.  The ones that perhaps questioned a little deeper.  The ones which prodded below the surface a little bit. Such as Asking nature for advice and What is beautiful and what is not?  However, having stated that, the one that made me laugh for days and days was:  Let the Vegetables Speak!  I laughed so hard about that one that Barry thought I was perhaps a little loco… 

And then there was the blog  Three gunshots at dawn which stirred my heart with its simplicity, making me want to write simple blogs from that day forward. (Which probably didn’t happen again.) And then there was Skin which seemed to elicit a visceral sense of connection with tree bark. But I think my all-time favorite may have been the sweat lodge blog:  Sweat lodge memories: fire, rock, lodge, medicine. 

The skin of white birch

Upon uploading this photo, I was amazed to discover the silhouette of a woman in this stone...

Phew!  This was a LOT of work looking for these old blogs, copying, pasting, hyperlinking.  I really could keep adding more and more.  But now I’m all weepy-eyed and nostalgic and already missing this most incredible year.  And it’s not over until tomorrow… Sniff…

You might not want to sit here.

 

 Hello reader!  First of all, these photos were taken yesterday.  I felt suddenly silently called to visit Lake Superior’s shore, filled with a desire to photograph ice-forming pictures.  Imagine my surprise to discover the ice extravaganza which coated benches, gates and poles.  

The Keweenaw Bay, December 2009

 

 Walking out the boardwalk-pier proved very very challenging.  It required tip-toeing.  The entire boardwalk lay coated with a covering of ice.  One did not want to walk too quickly, slip and enjoy a polar plunge in the bay.  I wondered which recent day furiously frosted this lake-side world with thick ice.  

Swirl of sand and snow

 

 Much of the beach looked clean-swept with only dustings of snow.  Stones and snow slumbered together, bedmates for the winter.   

The way ice forms along the edge of Lake Superior

 

 The ice is forming along the edges of the lake.  Many predict an early ice-fishing season.  (I actually witnessed a surveyor/architect fellow walking on river ice today.  What craziness!  Was he nuts?  River ice is so fragile, so delicate, so thin.  I wanted to leap from the car and photograph his insane behavior.  Yet, did not want to embarrass the fellow.  My own brand of quiet insanity, you think?) 

And the wind bent the icicles backwards

 

 Today’s outdoor adventure involved an insanity of its own.  Heading out into the woods without snowshoes.  (You see now how the river-walker and I have something in common…although it still seems his venture might be a little more dangerous.)  I followed the ridge behind the house, the snow almost cresting the top of the boots.  It was a work-out trudge.  Kind of like going to the gym.   

Up close ice

 

I emerged on the road awhile later, nicely sweating, after communing with a woodpecker.  I caught a photo of him in flight, which perhaps you shall see on Sunday.  He pecked away on a dead tree.  I begged him to come closer, closer, just a little closer, but he looked down his long beak at me and said, “You are close enough, madam” and flew away to the next dead tree stump.  

Four ice-enshrouded posts overlook bay

 

Our temperature turned so mild today and crested above the freezing mark.  The ice in downtown L’Anse will undoubtedly have melted today.  Perhaps folks can amble down the boardwalk toward Lake Superior without slipping. 

As we approach the darkest day of the year, let us remember to walk carefully if we live in northern climes.  Ice is silently forming, preparing to transform our Great Lakes.

Bear and Cub in the woods

I suppose you’ve all figured out I’m crazy about numbers.  Stats.  Useful information.  It’s kind of an obsession, as I explained to a friend this morning.  

We’ve covered the top search engine terms people have used to find this blog.  Now let’s look at the top blogs during the 365 day outdoor commitment. (Although, it seems to me that these top blog numbers are not really accurate.  If someone logs on to a blog and simply scrolls down the page without clicking on the actual title of the blog or the comments, no “hit” is registered in the statistics of a particular blog.)

#1 is Some Like It Funny and Some Like It Serious  (1,247 hits) and #3 is Repeating myself like a broken record, record, record (or CD, CD, CD) (393 hits).  Those two don’t really “count” as random top blogs because these were the blogs featured on the home page of WordPress.com.  The #2 top blog isn’t really a blog at all.  It’s the “About”  (612 hits) story which explains what this blog is about. 

#4 is Fisher, Pine Marten, Bear and Moose  (326 hits) which features photographs by Pam Boppel-Nankervis, a local wildlife biologist.  The first photo (up above) was captured by a game camera. 

The mysterious inside of an oak gall

#5 is The gall of that oak tree! That was the exciting day when we discovered that oak trees often grow green balls known as “galls”.  Very educational…for all of us.  Apparently, many, many folks are interested in oak galls. 309 hits for this one. 

 
Raven’s claw

 

I am also delighted to tell you that I discovered one of the dead birds hidden within this blog!  At least part of a dead bird.  The above raven’s claw was featured in a post called Dead raven, deer hide, river and stones back in March.  Perhaps all the people searching for “dead bird” end up on this post.  It has had 284 hits. 

The first sucker I ever caught

#7 in the greatest hits series (ha ha, Barry made me use this title!) is A sucker for sucker fishing, written in May.  I’m sure many fishermen have visited this post, wanting to know the secret for catching suckers.  Bet they left not knowing much more than when they started.  Here’s what I remember about that day:  throw the fishing pole into the water and wait until the sucker bites.  Then jerk the pole up and hope that the hook caught the sucker.  End of my knowledge of sucker fishing. 237 hits here. 

Birch bark on snow

#8  An all-time favorite of blog visitors has been Let’s have a scavenger hunt!  (235 hits). The idea for it popped into this brain on the way to the mailbox one day and we had a few eager participants.  The rules:  find some pussy willows, sumac or wintergreen, birchbark, animal scat and an animal.  Photograph all five and email ‘em to me.  Some folks opted to put them in their own blogs.  We had so much fun that Amy over at Flandrumhill decided to feature a follow-up contest. Hers was really classy and educational.  

Fisher near pond

(Photo credit for above goes to Pam Boppel-Nankervis.  And this was NOT from a game camera.  She actually got this close to the fisher.  Can you imagine?) 

I hope that you don’t consider this cheating.  Putting in all these old photos and doing wrap ups of the year.  The statistics just beg to be included, you understand.  Besides, I didn’t think you wanted yet another photo of me in that darn snowmobile suit from 1970 filling the wood room.  That’s what we did again today.

Almost forgot to tell you!  More excitement.  The temperature leaped back up into the 20′s.  Once again, we’re living in the banana belt…

…you know what we’ll be doing.

Winter chores.  Which usually involves a lot of Snow.

Here’s a synopsis of our outdoor life from November through April or May each year:

Early early in the morning--time to go to work. Boots are preferred for dry feet at work.

Then there is the challenge of scraping the car.  Seems like I even wrote a blog about it back last winter.  Let’s see if it can be found.  Yes, here  it is if you would vicariously like to experience the thrill.

A very kind husband sometimes offers to scrape & brush the car!

This morning proved a very lucky morning.  My dear husband offered to open the door and walk outside to take pre-dawn photography shots.  Wasn’t he kind?  (HE didn’t have to go to work this morning…)  He even scraped and brushed the car after the photo shoot.  Of course, I do believe I scraped HIS car yesterday morning, so perhaps now we’re even. 

As of the last daylight check, it seems like it gets light around here somewhere around 8:15 a.m.  Dark around 5:45 p.m.  Our daylight hours are a little skewed compared to most folks on Eastern time because we’re so close to the Central Time Zone. (Morning observation:  forget the specifics.  It’s hard to determine when it gets light.  Let’s revise to say anywhere between 7:45-8:15 a.m. in the morning.  Or you can click here to get the official time.)

Yours truly shoveling the wood pile

In the afternoon we opted to fill the wood room.  You need to get the wood inside for a couple days before you burn it in the woodstove for prime burning.  Even though we have our wood pile nicely tarped, it still needs to dry out completely.  First, you have to shovel the snow off the tarps.  (This is usually not my job.)  Then one of us stands inside in the wood room while the other hauls logs to the door.  The inside-worker stacks the logs in nice even rows in the woodroom.  Because the inside worker has a cushier job (unless they are putting the logs up high) one must trade off.  I let Barry stack the higher logs and then jump inside to stack the lower logs while he carries the wood in.  Got that convoluted lesson in wood hauling and stacking?

Nothing like building a new garage addition in the snow!

This winter looks extra-challenging for chores because a certain Garage Addition Builder has not yet finished his project.  In fact, it looks like February might be the finishing date.  You never know.  The metal roof is in at the lumber yard.  He’ll drive his ’49 Studebaker in to pick up supplies on Friday.  Before he begins to work on his daily building project, he must shovel the snow off the rafters.  It makes building a garage addition in the summertime look like a piece of cake!

Another very important winter chore involves plowing the driveway with our tractor.  I suggested today that he uncover the tractor and re-plow the driveway for a photo shoot.  He declined.  So you will have to imagine what the tractor and plowing job looks like.  Or, if you’re really bored and missing this blog during the winter, re-read all the entries.  Somewhere in the archives there is a picture or two of the tractor.  I promise you.

My jobs are shoveling the deck and sometimes the front porch.  And…oh yes…we mustn’t forget…emptying the ash buckets.  After you burn enough wood in the woodstove, it fills up with ash which must then be dumped out in the woods.  And now you can visualize this exciting chore:

Emptying the ash buckets

Yep, that’s our winter chores.  I’ve probably forgotten at least ten of them.  So you can see, even if I decide to shut the door and stay inside all winter, it’s not going to happen!  Those outdoor chores will simply have to be done…

By the way, if I eventually start another blog, I am looking forward to being able to post indoor photographs.  For example…looking around furtively…no one is noticing this isn’t an outdoor photograph, are they?…don’t you think this statue of Abraham Lincoln with the cactus growing out of his head looks cool?  (Barry just raised his eyes and did not seem to agree…)  I did not even position that cactus.  Life is amazing, isn’t it?

Mr. Lincoln with a Christmas cactus growing out of his head.

Hint: This is NOT the Upper Peninsula, I can guarantee it.

 

This blog is dedicated to the many readers who randomly discovered this blog by utilizing a search engine.  You know who you are.  The reader who types in “close up pictures of puddles” or “never mind what I have posted yesterday” or “cauliflower brocoli salad” and end up on this blog. 

WordPress.com gives us all sorts of statistics, and search engine statistics are some of the funniest.  You wonder why in the world people would type in “people running in snow filled night”.  You sometimes even make up funny stories about it. 

I am here to tell you the all-time top searches that resulted in finding this outdoor blog during the 365 day commitment.  Are you ready?   (Don’t tell me you already can figure it out, based on the title!) 

The first and third top searches were status quo.  Centria.wordpress.com and Opening the door, Walking Outside were to be expected.  But who would have thought that 111 hits have resulted from the search “Palm Trees”?? 

Look at that palm tree blow!

 

(For all you new or itinerant visitors, the palm tree photos came from a trip to Fort Myers Beach, Florida, back in late March.) 

Search Term #4:  wood splitter.  Well, this is a perfect Yooper (Upper Peninsula) search engine term.  And do we know about wood splitters!  We are expert wood splitters.  (I can say this with assurance after a whole year of operating the lever.  We have not split off any fingers or other accessories and hopefully we never will.  Perhaps I should leave out the word “expert”.  Let’s substitute “experienced” wood splitters.) 

My husband with our lovely wood splitter (back in April)

 

Search engine term #5:  Sand movement on Lake Superior.  I am curious about that one.  Eighty seven hits followed these words.  Were they all the same person?  Is there a group of sand movement analysts?  Did my blog offer them anything concrete for their research?  (metaphorically speaking, of course…) 

Sand movement on Lake Superior. In and out, and out and in...

 

Then we have the feather-searchers.  Eighty two feather searchers have landed on this blog.  I have posted a few photos of feathers, and we have lots of birds in the Upper Peninsula, that’s for sure.  Here is one of my favorites from late June: 

Bald eagle tail feather in the sand

 

#7 search engine term:  dead bird.  Hmmm….  Sixty two views on this post from searching for “dead bird”.  Unfortunately, my own search on this blog did not find a photo of a dead bird.  They apparently had more luck.  I have a vague memory of photographing a dead–maybe–robin or chickadee in the yard.  But neither my memory nor the blog search engine could discover it.  It’s hiding somewhere in this year-long blog.  Fifty cents to the avid blog reader who can find it!  Just kidding! 

#8 (and we’ll stop here):  the infamous Vegetable Scraps!  I have told you before that searchers keep landing on this blog seeking Vegetable Scraps.  Maybe they are looking for soup recipes.  Maybe they want to make brocoli-cauliflower salad. Instead they arrive at a photo of scraps we throw out for the deer during the winter time.  I thought this photo back in January looked almost artistic. 

The infamous vegetable scraps

 

If you have a blog for two or three or more years, the search engine hits can reach into the thousands, so I’m told.  It’s odd to think that years down the road people may still be typing in “palm trees” and arriving at this Upper Peninsula of Michigan 365-day outdoor commitment blog. 

For any of you who are reading this post (having typed in palm trees, wood splitters, sand movement on Lake Superior, feather, dead bird and vegetable scraps) I have a little note for you: 

Sorry I missed you!

 

P.S.  very cold today for the outdoor adventure.  Eleven freezing degrees.  It took three trips in and out the front door to fulfill the commitment.  In and out…kind of like sand movement on Lake Superior…

Snow on white pine branch

Julie, Julie, Julie!  You decided to do what?  Write a blog for 365 days making Julia Child’s recipes?  And someone thought this worthy of a million dollar movie?

Julie, please share your secret with us.  We truly want to know.  Because, my dear, YOU had it easy.  All you had to do was read a recipe book and follow directions.  How challenging could this be?

Snowy path in woods

The rest of us bloggers (well, some of us bloggers) who chose to blog for all those 365 days DON’T HAVE ANY RECIPE BOOKS TO FOLLOW!!  We have to make up the blogs out of thin air.  We have to pray to blog-god to help us come up with new entertaining material.  We have to figure it out, day in and day out, day out and day in.

And what did you have to do?  FOLLOW A RECIPE BOOK!  If there was a recipe book to follow, a 365 day blog commitment would be a piece of cake.  (Get it?  A piece of cake?  Well, probably in Julia Child’s case it’s something like a bon-bon.)

Scary snow creature!

Truly, Julie, I have not yet watched your blogging movie.  It’s in my Netflix queue, truly it is.  People (well, two people anyway) have suggested that I watch this movie, thinking that we have something in common with our year-long commitment.  And I will probably love it.  You and Meryl Streep are in it, right?  Of course it will be a lovely movie.  I already have some organic popcorn ready for the occasion.  We’ll do that girl-thing together.  You, me and Julia.  We’ll celebrate year-long blogs together.  How does that sound? 

Sleeping snow dragon. Shhh....

Interjection:  my daughter just called on her way home from work.  I told her I was writing a blog sniffing at Julie’s audacity to FOLLOW RECIPES for a year and blog about it  Hmmmph!  I said.  Can you imagine?

She just happened to have watched the movie last weekend.  And guess what she does?  DEFENDS Julie.  May I quote exactly what she said?

“Mom, this was hard stuff.  You would have to de-bone a turkey or a duck!  She made 524 recipes during that year.  You couldn’t even DO the recipes where you live–you couldn’t even get half the ingredients!”

Hmmmpphh!  (I am thinking de-boning a turkey would be a cinch!  As for finding the ingredients, yep, she’s probably right…)

Slithering snow snake up there

So, OK, maybe the recipe-following blog adventure was a little teeny-weeny bit challenging.  Maybe we’ll give her that.  Maybe her souffles fell.  Maybe she burned her roast duck.  Maybe the Beef Bourguigon didn’t simmer long enough. 

I guess I’ll have to wait to see the movie and find out. 

A snow dragon of a different sort. Or perhaps you know what it is?

But, anyway, if any of the producers happen to Google Julie/Julia and find this blog…I’m open for a movie deal.  Just sayin’.  Give me a call.

**P.S.  oh yes, back to the “real” commitment.  Today I walked in the snow and took snow pictures.  It’s really all Gerry’s fault over at Torch Lake Views.  Gerry wrote a blog called “Imagine” in which we were suppose to spot iguanas, a dancer, bells, cats and ghosts in her snow photos.  I couldn’t spot anything (It was probably attention deficit disorder because it was time to go outside, or maybe because I was talking to Julie/Julia in my head.)  However, immediately upon entering Snow Country at least ten different snow-shapes presented themselves.

If we were simply following recipes, would we have seen snow creatures?  I think not.

Out the door they come! Looks like they're headed down the porch...

Dear Kids,  I broke the news to the Santas and the Snowmen today.  Told them–ever so gently–that you would not be coming home for Christmas this year.

You would never believe what happened next!  They jumped off their tic-tac-toe red and white Christmas board and marched toward the front door.  Every last one of them.  We stood shocked in disbelief!  What were the Santas and the Snowmen going to do? 

And they're trudging through the snow!

We know, don’t we, that these particular Santas and Snowmen have a history of unpredictability.  They are always doing something wild and crazy.  Ever since I won them in that Christmas raffle at Aura a few years back, they have been keeping us on our toes!  Odd things happen all the time, don’t they?

Remember the time when they all looked like they were going to commit suicide jumping off the table in the living room.  A few of them lay helter-skelter on the carpeted floor beneath their kamikaze jumping place.  Remember how we laughed?  How we laughed until we almost cried?  (Silly Santas and Snowmen!  What kind of holiday spirit was that?)

Then remember how every year the darn fellows appeared somewhere else?  One year they climbed near the ceiling and sat way up high near the plants.  Haven’t they been discovered in the bathtub, in the refrigerator, and a half-dozen other crazy places?  Maybe they’ve even been outside before.

But I wasn’t expecting their behavior this afternoon.  They simply all stood up and silently marched outside.

The reindeer are missing you guys already.

Down the porch steps they marched in single file.  Out into the snow.  Toward the cars!  Were they deserting us forever?  Just because you both aren’t coming home for Christmas?  The very first Christmas when BOTH of you won’t be with us?

Stocking hanging outside in spruce tree

I tried to get the leader to talk.  He was a Santa.  “Where are you going?” I begged, “Please come back!”  But on they marched.  “Next year maybe they’ll be home for Christmas!”  I hollered after them.  They refused to look back.

Off they go!

Perhaps they are walking to Manhattan and San Diego.  Perhaps they have booked airline tickets.  It’s hard to say what these Santas and Snowmen will do.  I just wanted you to be the first to know that you’re obviously going to be very much missed this year, you kids.

Even the Santas and Snowmen think so.

 

Here comes Santa Claus! Took a fire truck down from the North Pole.

Hi Santa!  We’re so excited to see you around here!  Did you have a good ride down from the North Pole?  Did you ride in that fire truck all the way?  Did you put out any fires along the way?  

Snowy winter wonderland

Santa scurried inside the Arvon Town Hall to deliver gifts to eager children.  I stood around in sixteen layers of clothing (NOT Grandma’s 1970′s snowmobile suit.  We do NOT bring that out in public) waiting for the hayride.  We had to wait until Santa passed out all his goodies.  Yep.  The Fire Department puts on a bona fide hayride every year for all the kids, parents and outdoor bloggers who want to hop aboard.  It’s a wagon pulled by your standard four-wheel drive pickup truck.  Complete with hay bales for all of us hayride-participants to sit atop.  

The boyz on the hayride

Oh the kids were so cute!  Really adorable, every single one of them.  Some of them had blue lips from sucking on blue and white candy canes.  Not from the cold, mind you!  Maybe twenty of us piled on the wagon for the short ride down to the township park and back.  (I had been forewarned to wear lots of heavy clothing.  It looked like not everyone received the memo.  Without hats and gloves, it looked like some riders might have been a tad bit uncomfortable…) 

Sun illuminates evergreens

However, the weather was lovely today.  Truly lovely.  I can’t begin to share how 25 degrees seems like a heat wave after a freezing cold previous day where the temperature barely rose to 10 degrees and the wind whipped around trees with a potent fury.  Today felt balmy.  At least for those of us with snow pants, hooded sweatshirt, heavy coat, two pair of mittens, warm hat and toasty Sorel boots. 

Two cute little girls on the hayride

How many of you are thinking the beautiful snow-covered trees were spotted during our hayride?  Ha ha, fooled you big time!  The tree-photos were taken yesterday down a side road near our house.  I was leaning out the window of the car, snapping away.  The mailman followed in his car.  You could tell he couldn’t figure out what I was doing on this road.  I flagged him to drive past.  He kind of frowned as he went around.  It was a puzzlement.  What was I doing on this road?  (This is one of the joys of rural living!  Everyone knows who you are and wonders when you’re not doing something predictable.) 

Another gate in our white snow world

After the hayride, it was time to finish shoveling the deck.  I love shoveling very slowly.  When Barry shovels, it’s all done in one session.  When I shovel, it may be two or three days.  That’s because one must ENJOY one’s shoveling.  One must only shovel until it’s time to quit.  Which might be in five minutes or fifteen minutes.  Never a half hour. 

Snow-covered "Christmas" trees

Hope everyone  a) gets to see Santa coming down from the North Pole on a fire truck and b)  gets to see a little snow for Christmas.  That is, if one lives in a snow-prone area of the world.  Also hoping c) that you all get to go on a hayride this year.  Really!  And remember, if you can’t find a hayride pulled by a good old-fashioned horse, a pickup truck will do.

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