This is a day for great celebration, the shortest day of the year, which blessedly is followed by longer and longer days. Every little lumen is a gift to those of us who crave light. I must have been a plant in another life, or maybe I am one now.
It’s a short day at the office. Most working people have picked their heads up and shifted eyes from computer screens to gaze into the distance and wonder that the holiday season is really upon us. Do we have enough food in the house, enough wine? Heavens, yes. Are our gifts purchased and wrapped? Pretty much, yes. The baking is all done, the wrapping paper is packed away. We are ready to kick back for a few days. As we anticipate the pleasure of our loved ones, we know that the office will wait.
Here in Vermont, it is looking very Christmas-y. Snow came early this year, and in quantity. There’s a good two feet of snow on the ground at my house. The dogs love it, but they look more like porpoises than dogs as they attempt to bound through deep and drifted snow.
Forecasters opine that it is pretty certain that we will have a white Christmas, even though it may rain this weekend. More than one Vermonter has been heard to wish they were staying home this year—the skiing is reported to be excellent—especially if they are heading out west where there has been little snow so far.
Snow! It’s amazing stuff. It’s still a novelty to me, but I don’t revel in it the way Vermonters do. One friend reminisced about building forts and tunnels—she and her small buddies dreamed of creating a network of tunnels connecting all the houses in their neighborhood. And if you go to an outdoor party in the winter here, all the adults fling themselves into sledding, sliding and general mayhem along with the kids. (For a description of a Vermont sliding party see http://vtdiary.blogspot.com/2006/03/winter-ways.html)
Vermonters don’t have all the different words for snow that Eskimos do, but they do talk about different kinds of snow. This unusual early December snow is declared to be “greasy.” It is hard to plow, easy to turn to ice under tires.
Perhaps that is why I just got stuck in my driveway last night. I took a run at the garage, but wasn’t going fast enough. Couldn’t go forward, couldn’t go back without running the risk of skidding into a snowbank. Tried to angle left….bigger skid….angle right…smack into the snowbank. This in a driveway no more than fifty feet long, but with a wicked slope.
I called my plow guy, and this morning he came over and pulled me out. I am so grateful that he helps me out of these all too frequent situations, and I told him so, handing over a loaf of Christmas stollen as well. Now that I have gotten stuck—right in my own driveway like the gosh-darned flatlander that I am—it must really be winter.
Long time Vermonters tolerate us newer Vermonters remarkably well. I started the morning with Willem Lange’s story of Favor Johnson on NPR--the story of a hound names Hercules, a flatlander doctor, homemade fruitcake and the real spirit of Christmas. Honestly, they shouldn’t play these stories on the radio! I could barely steer through tears. It’s a good story and you can hear it here http://www.vpr.net/episode/42370/