12.15.15 What is it about the little houses and villages we decorate with at this time of year! I wonder if we are like children playing with tiny dollhouses, creating the warmth and comfort we crave in these dark, cold, and, often, lonely, nights before the Solstice. Like civilizations in the past who kept fires burning all night long, we light our candles and turn on the little fairy lights, to balance the deepest darkness which arrives at year’s end.
I received an email yesterday that we could see the International Space Station fly by at 6:09 p.m. It had been a beautiful sunny day with sugar-coated mountain tops surrounding the valley, and I planned my errands to coincide with the low setting sun and alpine glow for the drive back home. But, at 6:09, when we took the lantern down to the dock, a cloud cover had settled over us, and all we could see in the dark was the yellow glow inside our house up the hillside, and the colorful Christmas tree.
For the first time in 25 years, Billings cancelled school today because of the snowstorm they got yesterday. “You lucky bums” we texted to family and friends. Here, in the northwest corner of Montana, we wait for snow.
Over in Montana
by William Stafford
Winter stops by for a visit each year.
Dead leaves cluster around. They know what is
coming. They listen to some silent song.
At a bend in the Missouri, up where
it’s clear, teal and mallards lower
their wings and come gliding in.
A cottonwood grove gets ready. Limbs
reach out. They touch and shiver.
These nights are going to get cold.
Stars will sharpen and glitter. They make
their strange signs in a rigid pattern
above hollow trees and burrows and houses—
The great story weaves closer and closer, millions of
touches, wide spaces lying out in the open,
huddles of brush and grass, all the little lives.