Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Hugh’s Photo Challenge: Week 8 – Charity Christmas Tree Topper Challenge

I Love You to the Moon & Back, Too!
Dreams of Sugar Plum Faeries Dancing
Love From a Summerhouse in Britain
Love From Kansas Fields of Sunflowers
A Proper Tree Topper in the Office
What's topping my tree is nothing.

That fact makes it a tad difficult to join in with all the merry-making tree-toppers around the globe, but I'm a writer. I'll make the connection. I also love dogs and this tree-topping post is to support Hugh's great cause for the Dog Trust Charity. Hugh is great, too and gets bloggers topping trees in photos each year. Learn more at his blog, Hugh's Views and News.

Many marvelous ornaments hang from my bare-topper tree. (Hugh actually has a bear-topper tree, which is slightly different). A few my children made Christmases long ago. A Santa in his sled had an accident of sorts during the night and he lost his red wagon and both boots. Luckily, I have a 15-year-old staying with us and she's a whiz at Super Glue.

My tree is taking on an international flare. Two years ago, a tiger from India joined the Sugar Plum Fairy and watchful Nutcracker. This year a special post from a special Summerhouse arrived on Elmira Pond bearing British love in an ornament. Next, two new ornaments arrived from distant Kansas, professing love that is both as cheerful as a Kansas sunflower and out of this world.

It's not what tops the tree, but the ornaments that hang with memories of loved ones.

Yet, upstairs in my office is a perfectly topped wire tree strung with lights. Beneath the star a drama unfolds. A fly and a spider stand off in the light of colorful electric bulbs. Life, and death, does not pause for Christmas. But the promise of Christmas, a baby in a manger come to save humankind, lifts us above the spider-eats-fly world we live in.

May your tree be topped with what matters most -- love. From this, all else hangs like the ornaments we adore.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Winter Whistles

Eagle From My Office in Shadow of Star
Scanning Elmira Pond
Responding to Whistles
Also Responding to Whistles
Something white catches my eye while I rinse dishes. Thinking it's the railroad track pigeons, I give a casual glance. What looks like two white birds becomes one -- a bald eagle with white head and tail. He's got a hankering for pigeon-pie.

He hung around Elmira Pond for most of the day. Like me, he looks over the pond in search of movement. Only stillness. The migration south is over. Those who remain are the opportunists: the murder of crow, the forest ravens and the bald eagles.

No one likes the crow tree I decorated last year. The crows avoid it and several of the shiny baubles have dulled and the glittery ribbon is faded gold. The eagle pays it no mind from his perch on the bent top of a larch.

So I whistle. The eagle hears me and cocks his head one way and then the other. How delightful it can be to get a response from a living thing. I whistle some more and laugh. Then I hear meowing and see a winter-puffed Bootsy headed my way.

We all need to connect. No one can live in a tree, a garage or a house alone.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Rains

Santa Has a Tree for Me
Our Tree is Tagged & Legal
Frozen Grouse Creek on Dec. 5, 2015
Swollen Grouse Creek on Dec. 9, 2015
Pooling Flood Water
Nearing the Bridge
Churning & Muddy
Swollen Waves
Road Wash Out
A thin crust of ice clings to shadows as Todd and I shop for a Christmas tree. He likes the firs with their short needles, and I like the thick pines. We measure height with our eyes and try to imagine this one or that in our living room.

Finally, we agree on a tree and he gets the handsaw.

Our lot is the wide open Kiniksu National Forest, and we have a $5 permit with a "Merry Christmas" greeting from the Forest Service. It might lack mugs of cocoa or a red-suited Santa you'd find in town, but I like shopping for a tree in the forest.

Until I look down and see lynx tracks. That's when I notice the deer carcass and head to the truck. No way do I want to get caught between a hungry wild cat and her dinner. We pick another tree, and I say I like it better. It's better because it's not located in the lynx dining room.

Turns out it's a hemlock. Not a bad choice, but we are both surprised as we load it in the truck. We have to carry it because where there's not snow in shadows, there's mud. Two winters ago we had to trek through waist deep snow to find our Christmas tree. Now we are driving along Grouse Creek, tires slipping on mud.

We cut the tree on Saturday because we had a lull in the drizzling rain. On Sunday it returned. Though I wait for it to turn to snow, the rain continues to patter on our metal roof. The moisture is needed, but so is snow. Without the cold, the water saturates the ground. Snow is like a container and it (should) release the moisture as spring thaw comes on gradually.

Last year the thaw came early and quick. By the time the rivers would normally be close to flood stage, we were entering a drought. Yet, if you look at precipitation, we had a "normal" year. Cold plays a dynamic role in our Inland Pacific Northwest climate.

At 2 am last night it was 52 degree F. Crazy warm! And the rain poured relentlessly. The flooding began a few hours later. We went up both the Pack River and Grouse Creek to marvel at the natural disaster. The road we had just slipped down with our tree a few days ago is gone in places. The icy river is now churning pale chocolate milk. Logs look like sticks riding the rapids.

When the road washed out before us, Todd kept driving. Yes, I panicked. He found it funny. The only way I could calm down was to point my camera and film. Watching the screen diverted my eyes from watching the washout road. Not a prize-winning piece of journalism, but you can watch the video here.

There's something unnerving about how quickly water can displace rock. It's as if water plays nicely and goes through proper channels only because it agrees to this arrangement. We build up around it and one day water turns rebellious and destroys all we've built -- bridges, road, houses, pastures.

It's receding and we'll muck out the debris water left in it's wake. At least we got our Christmas Tree before the road washed out.

The photos I'm sharing via Abracabadra's Wordless Wednesday Link up. The photos are mine, as well as the words.

I'm not really word-less.