Road Hazard

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Back in the fall we had a big old windstorm. Lots of trees fell. Power was out for a while. It made a general mess of the usual tidiness of human daily life around here. But then things got cleaned up. Power was restored. We got back to the day-to-day.

But some remnants can be found yet. This afternoon my kids spent a couple of hours manhandling the tops of two white pines that snapped off during that storm. They made a fence of sorts at the edge of the field. They managed to get covered in sap. Then they got covered in mud. They took advantage of the messiness of spring.

Up the road there is maple that almost fell. It broke near the ground and leaned out over the road to the other side. A beech caught it. It hangs there still. Every time I go by it seems the trunk is more rotted or torn. That thing is going to fall at some point. We rush whenever we have to pass beneath it. It hangs there, patiently waiting for a strong enough breeze. Or maybe an elephant. We don’t have elephants around here so that isn’t much of an option I suppose.

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Today was a warm one. When the sun rose over Camel’s Hump I headed up the hill. A flock of Snow Geese was pecking away at the muddy field. I thought I heard a Phoebe but that could have been wishful thinking. I went to the lake and watched the ducks. I got coffee at the corner store. Later, we went for a walk. We avoided the danger zone this time.

Easter tomorrow. We will hunt for some eggs, eat some candy, have a good meal. Likely, we will go for a walk at some point. I am guessing that leaning maple will still be leaning. But one of these days it will slide to the ground. Or crash to the ground. Tomorrow is as good a day as any. But I’m not betting it will happen so soon. Even if it is a day of new beginnings.

Snow for Christmas

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We wish for it every year, but it rarely arrives. We have rain. Or wind. Or spring-like temperatures. We typically wake in the dark and gradually see the world wake up to whatever weather graces us. But snow? Doesn’t happen.

It looks like this year, however, we will have snow for Christmas. Yesterday it snowed all day. I spent the day in a meeting room, having many conversations, all of them with snow falling behind me. Perhaps I should have sat in the opposite chair. I could have watched the snow.

When I got home we went for a walk in the dark. The snow still fell heavily. It was light, fluffy, scattering in clouds when we kicked at it. It coated our hats. It squeaked underfoot. The trees wore it. The woods were quiet. Back home we took a sled run or two, shoveled off the porch, filled the bird feeders.

This morning snow coated the field. Late morning it started to rain. It rained most of the day, sometimes just a drizzle, sometimes heavily. But the snow stuck around. There was enough of it. Just before dark it started to snow again. With everything wet from the rain, the snow easily adhered. Branches are white again.

More snow is in the forecast for Monday. There is a winter storm watch for Christmas day. We are looking to get up to eight inches. We had hoped to go see the new Star Wars movie that afternoon. We may have to scratch that. We don’t really want to drive in heavy snow. And if we have that much snow, why go anywhere? We can stay home and ski and sled and romp.

Christmas is only two days away, so the forecast is likely to be fairly, if not totally, accurate. Still, I have my doubts, only because I can hardly believe it. A white Christmas, even here in northern Vermont, is a rare thing these days. I am afraid we will have fewer and fewer of them. But if we get one this year, I’ll take it. In fact, I’ll hoot about it and run around in the snow in pajamas. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Oh, there it is

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Months ago we lost the remote control for the television. Who doesn’t do that, who owns a television, right? It falls between the couch cushions. It gets left on the table. It gets stashed in a drawer. It happens. Usually, however, it shows up at some point.

But ours never showed up. We each took turns looking. Those couch cushions got lifted up too many times. The couch got moved so we could look beneath it. The drawer, where we so tidily and responsibly kept the remote, was turned upside down more than once. We looked and looked until we exhausted places to look. It just was nowhere to be found.

I held out for months, then did some research into getting a replacement. I mean, your old television you could get by without a remote. You got up and changed the channel or the volume and you could at least feel that you were not being lazy. But this remote had so many features that trying to adjust some things was a challenge, at the least. Enter a Netflix password without that remote? I guess we skip the movie.

So finally I broke down and ordered a new remote. It was easy to find. There were multiple options on Amazon and elsewhere. When it arrived I slid in some batteries, pointed it at the television and boom! Success. Our easy life was back.

And we lived with that new remote for months. It worked great. No complaints. It was now what we had, even if it looked different than the old one. The old one was forgotten, slipping into the past, as things do. Then Easter came.

My wife pulled the Easter baskets from up-up stairs, as we call the semi-finished third floor of the house. She sorted through the various Easter decorations. She pulled the fake grass from one of those baskets and “No way!” there was the remote. How it got into one of the Easter baskets, fully covered in that fake grass crap, we still cannot figure, but we would not have found it. There is just no way we would have looked there.

So now we have two television remotes. We can choose the one we want. How First World is that? The Easter baskets are again tucked away. In films, those who make them often now hide what they call “Easter eggs:” small jokes or references that can spotted in the background. We had our own Easter egg this year. And it came before Easter, as if risen from the grave. Fitting, no?

Poor Thing

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Ah, the end of the holidays, Always a bit of a letdown. Always a bit sad. The lights come down. The decorations get boxed. The colorful paper gets recycled. And the tree gets tossed out onto the lawn.

Usually we cut our own tree. The tradition, several years old now, has been to cut a tree from a nearby tree farm the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We have found a tree at more than one local tree farm and it has always been a memorable experience. A couple of years ago, for example, it was warm enough that my son wore shorts. To cut a Christmas tree. No one-horse open sleigh hauling the tree out of the woods for us. Memorable.

This year we went away right after Thanksgiving. To Florida of all places. Because we were spending several days in the Sunshine State we would be spending fewer days in front of the Christmas tree at home. My wife insisted that this meant we had fewer days to celebrate. So we got a tree before Thanksgiving. The tree farms were not ready for us that early, but they had them at the hardware store. We all hopped in the van and picked one out together. We did not need to bring a saw. The tree came from a local tree farm. We stuffed it into the back of the van and drove it home. Memorable.

Today the tree lies, still in its stand, on the frozen lawn. Now, typically it would find a home in the brush pile over in the strip of woods to the north of the house. And it will find a home there. Eventually. Needles were falling off it so readily, however, that my wife carried it as carefully as she could to the porch before giving it a heave. More needles fell off when it hit the frozen lawn. We have never had a tree shed needles like that. We filled a paper grocery bag with those needles. Dry summer I guess.

I know I should move the poor thing. There isn’t much dignity in bringing so much light and joy to a household and then lying naked in the cold, waiting for some decent soul to give you a purpose again, say, maybe, as a home for mice or chickadees. I will get to it. Honestly, I just don’t think of it. I go out to look at the moon and I think “I really need to haul that puppy off to the brush pile.” But it is cold and I need some gloves and then I go inside to drink tea and I forget about it again. Not very grateful, I know.

We have a long weekend coming up. Maybe I will get to it then. Unless I forget. Again. Maybe I just need to make a point to go out and look at the moon more often. That would do it. Win win as they say. Win win.

Chocolate Stash

imageFor Christmas I asked for chocolate. I like really good chocolate. Not your Hershey’s sour milk chocolate (although I will not turn that down mind you) but well-crafted dark chocolate. My stocking was full of the stuff and I got some other bars and treats aside from that. I have a stash that will last me a while. If I am careful.

A bunch of years ago I had surgery and I had to lie on the couch for a couple weeks. I watched a lot of movies during that time. My beautiful spouse, always one to make my life better, got me a couple of dark chocolate bars. Maybe it was because I was in slow mode, maybe it was because I was in a mood to appreciate things more than usual, or maybe it was the drugs I was on, but those chocolate bars satisfied in a big way. And I wanted more.

These days I try to have a bit of chocolate on hand at all times. When I want a sweet treat I can break off a bit and find some satisfaction. It keeps me from eating too much ice cream, if you know what I’m saying. At the moment I have a supply to last me well into the winter. I hope. That hazelnut bar went down, let me tell you. And those Lake Champlain Chocolates are pretty much to die for, if you’ll allow me the expression. If I have to get surgery any time soon, I will be set for a few days, but pacing myself could be a challenge.

I hear global warming might mean chocolate shortages. Plus other factors such as witch’s broom fungus mean less cocoa production. And then there’s the new strain of cocoa that tastes like crap. So the days of accessible and affordable delicious chocolate could be waning. I hope that is not the case. And demand often means problems get solved because prices go up. Worst case scenario would be too much to bear. At the moment, however, I am going to enjoy what I’ve got. The stuff is just so damn good.

Christmas at Home

We celebrate Christmas in our house. And boy do we gear up for it. The weekend after Thanksgiving we get a tree (a fir, cut from the tree farm down the road) shove into the van and set it up. By December 1st we have a trimmed tree, lights up, holiday themed dishware out on the table and more to come.

By Christmas Eve, we are ready to go–gifts wrapped, holiday music playing, a full refrigerator, stockings hung, festive as can be. So by Christmas morning the anticipation is pretty high. We spent the tail end of Christmas Eve at my sister-in-law’s place and so did not get home until later than the usual bedtime. Not that it mattered. Our kids were so excited that they had a hard time falling asleep. My son did not fall asleep until at least 11:00. He woke up around 4:00. He had the crazy idea that 4:00 was the time to get up and head downstairs. We had to put him off until 5:00. It was an early morning.

We had stockings stuffed with small gifts and opened those gifts first. We took a break for a waffle breakfast. We had a fire in the woodstove that heated things up fast–temperatures were in the forties. Some snow stayed on the ground at least. We had a lot of snow but then had two days of rain to wash most of it away. It was patchy Christmas morning but it was there at least. We opened gifts throughout the morning and early afternoon, trying to make it last. It is a pretty special day.

I took a short walk after our afternoon dinner. The breeze felt warm and clouds drifted across the gray sky. The water in the river was high with all the melted snow. Fields were flooded. A crescent moon dangled behind the clouds. The road was muddy. It was quiet. I thought about how this day is about giving and love and it made me want to simplify my life, get to what matters most more often.

The kids were asleep early. My daughter resisted the idea of going to bed earlier than usual, but she conked out pretty much immediately. My wife and I stayed up for a while, enjoying the quiet and the lights. We felt like successful parents, fostering the joy of the day, creating memories and all that. It turned out to be magical for all of us. After we turned out the lights and said goodnight to the tree, we headed to bed. It didn’t take long for us to conk out ourselves.

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Your Typical July 4th Parade

Went to the parade on Friday. 11:00. It passed through town and ended down by the post office. It had your usual ingredients:

Floats

Floats (plus fun hats)

Firetrucks

Firetrucks

Tractors

Tractors (the pink tractor that usually appeared did not appear–bummer)

Horses

Horses

Plus a 1952 Citroen--now that's patriotic!

Plus a 1952 Citroen–now that’s patriotic! Maybe we should have a parade on July 14th with this puppy in the lead.

We stuck around town for some free ice cream offered by a local church (You’ll love our other Sundays too!) and watched some kids get wet in the dunk tank. It wasn’t hot. I could have used a sweatshirt. The dunk tank did look fun, however.

At days end we watched the fireworks from our porch. A few of them of them were a little hidden by the hill, but behind the screen we had no mosquitoes. The highlight was one burst that spread out into a huge smiley face. We ended the day happy, all independent and stuff. Hope you had a happy Fourth yourself.