The solstice occurs in just a couple of hours, so I guess that makes this the longest night of the year. That strikes me as something worth celebrating. I am waiting for my friend Chris to show up, on foot, because the road up the hollow is probably too icy for his car.
We don’t get many vistors this time of year, apart from our hunter friends — and of course the birds for whom this is balmy weather: tree sparrows, juncos, siskins. This morning, my mother found a flock of common redpolls at the Far Field, the first we’ve seen in many, many years. Redpolls are Canadian birds that don’t tend to venture too far south of the border most years, unless forced to by hunger. They were gorging on birch seeds at the edge of the field, Mom said. But by the time I got there this afternoon, the flock had gone.
As I stood listening, a pair of military jets flew over just a few miles away. Yesterday, apparently, they were much closer: one of the hunters had gone for a walk to the Far Field, and wrote in an email,
Perhaps you are not impressed when the military fly their jets over the mountain but yesterday when I was walking 2 flew over so low I could see the whites of the pilots eyes. Literally feet over the tops of the ridges. It gave me the willies.
Ah, Chris is at the door! And look, he has a knapsack bulging with holiday beverages. First out of the bag: a dry Irish ale from Magic Hat brewery in Burlington, Vermont. Good things come from the north.
Let my words
be bright with animals,
images the flash of a gull’s wing.
If we pretend
that we are at the center,
that moles and kingfishers,
eels and coyotes
are at the edge of grace,
then we circle, dead moons
about a cold sun.
–Joseph Bruchac, “Prayer,” from Near the Mountains