The year’s shortest day

One of yesterday’s photos, another of Deb’s shots, complements the “kitchen window” image I shared on Sunday. It captures what we see standing where the house will be, facing roughly west. (I made it today’s cover image. Click here to see it by itself.)

That’s our front-porch view.

Ultimately the perspective from our porch will be a little higher, I think. The driveway will be finished, of course, and the red clay visible now will be covered in stone and gravel. The brush piles will go away. I’ll probably drop those two oak snags and leave them on the ground for critter habitat.

The scene is yet another visual feeding our vision. It helps keep us motivated.

Despite today’s headline, the 21st of December is no shorter than any other day of the year. This solstice is the annual solar moment marking the least daylight and the most darkness. But it still adds up to 24 hours.

Night or day, winter or summer, it’s what we do with those hours, isn’t it?

Traditionally this also is the first day of winter. Now you might not want to mention that to people in the lee of the Great Lakes, who’ve seen over seven feet of snow already, or the hardy handful hunkered in Polebridge, Montana, where they’ve dealt with sub-zero lows for weeks.

Today’s high in Polebridge, incidentally, will be -8°F, followed by a low tonight of -26°F. As much as Deb and I love the place, a forecast like that reminds us why we decided to settle in Ozarkansas.

Not that it’ll be a picnic here. But our winter blast will last only through Christmas weekend.

The temperature at sunup tomorrow is predicted to be 33°F, the day’s high. From there it’ll dive hard and the wind will pick up. Overnight we’ll have “feels like” conditions in the -30s.

We may peek above freezing on Christmas Day. We’ll be heating with LP ’til Tuesday morning.

Today was for wrapping up significant water usage and dumping the tanks, which we did twice. We’re not so much concerned that the tanks themselves will freeze, as long as our heat stays on, but dumping in severe conditions could result in waste water flash-freezing in the Stinky Slinky between the bus and the sewer. I hope I don’t have to explain why that would be a bad thing.

And so we’ve set ourselves up to get through the worst (48 hours of stiff NW winds and temps in the teens or lower) without having to dump. If we need to go longer, that won’t pose a problem.

If you want to know the truth, I’m diggin’ the hell outta this. I’ve always liked meeting the challenges winter presents — cold, snow and ice, keeping wood in the firebox, dressing in layers. Compared to some winters I’ve been through, this is nothing.

Life on The Mountain will present its own challenges. I’m looking forward to that.

The last item on today’s pre-chill list was Deb’s birthday dinner. Her birthday isn’t until Friday, but since we mean to be hunkered down that day we agreed to go out tonight. She chose Marie’s, a restaurant we first enjoyed not long ago.

Pictures tell (most of) the story. It was wonderful.

What I can’t convey with images is the sound of soft guitar and vocals, courtesy of a local high-school English teacher who plays gigs in his off hours. There’s no way a photo could tell the story of our young waitress, born and raised here, a girl who knows how special her home is and never wants to live anywhere else.

The quiet moments. The easy conversations. The warmth and genuine hospitality. Merry Christmas.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB

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