Tuesday, December 1, 2015


   Now begins the cold and dark December.
   The colors of the autumn have been left behind. Nature dresses now in black and white and countless shades of grey; in browns and tans and muted golds of sleeping winter trees and fields; in understated greens of hemlock, pine and spruce.
   The nights are long; the days are short; the sun sets early and the moon arises late. The darkness lingers, and the daylight rises slow and laggardly against the cold.
   Winter birds are fluffed against the cold, like humans in down jackets.
    Eventually the snow begins; it always happens; and you should forgive me if I say I'm not against the snow; I love it.
   Snow decorates the evergreens like humans never could; it coats the leaf-bare trees, softening their winter outlines; it lays a creamy softness on the contours of the earth and camouflages all the muck and mud and messiness the flooding autumn rains have left along my creek and bottom land...
    Snow provides good insulation for my garden against the winter cold; it protects the bulbs, the roots of shrubs and trees and my perennials.
    The snow provides a perfect foil for the moon; the shadow patterns of December moonlight on the snow are deep and dark and interesting.
    The full December moon bears names from long ago, given to them by the native tribes. These names reflect the spirit of the cold... "Moon When Cold Makes Trees Crack"... "Big Cold Winter Moon"...  "Cold Hard-Faced Moon"...
    The full December moon imparts a frigid sheen against the snow and polishes my creek to pewter.     It's path is unobstructed in this bare-tree season. When the full moon wanes, the stars are numerous and bright against the darkness, and astonishingly close. They hypnotize sky-gazers like myself; I sometimes feel I am in the sky among them and could touch them if I dared to try.
    The December mood of night is quiet, interrupted only by the wind or by the lonely hooting of an owl. Woodsmoke from neighbors' chimneys add a comforting aroma.
    The year is old; the winter's new. December moves on creaky bones toward the Winter Solstice, and from there the creek grows quiet, its waters gelling from the edges....
    Then comes Christmas Eve and Christmas, a holy season in itself; quite apart from nature. And that's a separate story...

Monday, November 30, 2015


    As November ends, I realize I have not mourned the early absence of the autumn leaves. It has re-opened the sky in my valley; a sky largely hidden in summer by the lushness of the tall-tree greenery here.
     Coupled with our unusual gift of clear skies day and night throughout the month, my dog and I have been rewarded each morning, in our pre-dawn walks, by the spectacular brilliance of Venus in the eastern sky. 
    That's not remarkable, astronomers have written; it's predictable. But to me, it was remarkable the first time I "met" the planet as a stargazing child. And each time thereafter, each time I see it, it has been remarkable all over again.    
    Predictable or not.