Merry Christmas

Our seemingly endless summer terminated this week with the arrival of our first winter storm. Under the cover of endless night the wind and rain hammered the house turning the tin roof into a snare drum at times. Robin and I cuddled under flannel sheets and a four pound quilt. Come morning, we crawled out and greeted a blustery winter day. Cumulus storm clouds ripped across the sky obscuring the suns best intentions.
After black tea with honey, when the fireplace crackled and sputtered a familiar song, we donned long coats and headed for the barn.
“An inch and three quarters,” Robin said, shaking out the rain gauge.
“Two feet of heavy snow would be nice right about now,” I said thinking, how precious the stuff is when we are so plundered by drought.
Max our Golden Retriever smiles, and insists on sticking his nose in my hand as we walked along. Zues our German Shepard is content hoarding his ball, pretending someone will abscond with it if he’s not careful. The horses all nickered when we slide open the breezeway doors. Pocho, Sheriff and Dakota, our new foals stuck their heads through the gates on their stalls, their eyes wide with anticipation, Buddy Love, my appropriately named buckskin, stood there regally dripping class. Wilber and Joey the Bay are complacent as if to say: “Just bring the food.”
“Ola kitty Ola!” I said, stroking two happy cat’s that arch their backs against the caress of my hand before dining on Little Friskies.
Robin broke a thin veil of ice off the water troughs, while I slung alfalfa and wheat hay into the stalls. The pastures are a sea of mud and the foreboding skies promise more of the liquid gold, so we left the horses inside the comfort of the barn.
Robin and I pushed wheel barrels over to the wood shed where we admired six cords of split cedar, pinion and pine. Our nostrils quivered with the scent of pitch delivered on the crisp damp morning air.
“Check out the canyon,” I said, turning to drink it all in.
A moan full wind buffeted isolated pockets of swirling snow in the corridor below. Rock edifices display the scars of time accusing the culpable forces of wind and water. To the north the great plateau rises where frosted pines hoard a bounty of deep snow. Nature’s voice is somber now; summers flurry is but a memory.
After the kindling was split and the porch piled high, we returned to the comfort of the warm fire and the familiar trappings that herald Christmas.

Today the forecast calls for sun and mud. Robin returns from her morning foray into town and has commenced with the elaborate Christmas cookie ritual.
“Can you smell them? Can you smell them!” she chants from the kitchen, “Watch out or I’ll torture you with Christmas music.”
“Are you threatening me?” I call down from the loft.
She works with the precision of a jeweler cutting the Hope diamond. Believe me; Martha Stewart has nothing on this girl. Soon, the table is adorned with red and green sugar cookies and the ones with the Hershey Kiss in the middle. Meanwhile she pulls the first batch of ginger snaps out of the oven.
“They’re a little crisp around the edges,” she says, knowing full well that’s how I like them, knowing that’s the irresistible touch that will make me consume more than humanly possible. She’s a Michael Angelo with flour and sugar.
“Tyler can take the left over cookies back to college with him,” she says.
“Bless that boy. He’s a saint,” I say. “Hey, didn’t you promise me Christmas music?”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Gene and Robin


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