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DayCreek Journal

December 22, 2004

Silent Night

It's 10:30 on this very cold and clear night just before Christmas. I've decided to go for a night hike through the snow. With the moon nearly three quarters full, there's no need for a flashlight as the snow-covered hills reflect the moonlight. There's not much wind to speak of and temperatures are already down to 8 degrees below zero (F). I find the hike rather refreshing, but I know that it won't be long before I'm anxious to return to the warm confines of the cordwood house. I can already feel my mustache freezing up.

As I walk the snow squeaks underfoot, but other than my own man-made sounds, the air is deafeningly quiet. No coyotes, no neighborhood dogs barking, no owls, not even the sounds of an high-altitude jetliner. But after listening intently for a few minutes, I can hear the faint sounds of Day Creek. The creek runs year round and at least as long as I've been here, it has never frozen over. Sound travels far on such a cold night.

On this very cold night, where are all the animals? During the day, there were a couple of deer foraging through the snow next to the house and lots of birds: chickadees, nut hatches, juncos, gold finches, cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, crows and even a few bluebirds. There's plenty of wildlife here in the middle of winter, but how do they survive in such conditions? Life is simply amazing when you think about it.

This is a special time of year—not just because of the holidays, but winter solstice is here. Solstice means "sun standing still" and the sun rises and sets at approximately the same position each day. But fear not—it won't be long before the sun rises higher in the sky each day and the sun warms not only our hearts but the air too.

A Winter Solstice Greeting

Chickadees, juncos and finches know,
Time has come for Winter's new snow.
Days are short and the nights are long,
Quiet are the woods, devoid of song.
Ask the coyote, hawk, owl and deer,
They all know the time is almost here.
It won't be long for the shadows to show,
No further south shall the sun go.
A time of celebration is nearly at hand,
For soon Ol' Sol will make his stand.
And so it goes year after year,
A new season is upon us filled with laughter and cheer.
So with this poem we bring to you,
A Winter Solstice Greeting that is sure to ring true.

Peace be with you all!