December 2008


I chanced to look out the front window late this afternoon as the sky was getting dark and saw the MOON again — this time to the right of my mailbox. It was a slender crescent that looked like a rocking chair leaning back in the other direction. There was a single bright star above it and to the left. When Bob came in he said it’s not a star but a planet, probably Venus.

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This morning when I went out to get the paper, the sky was somewhere between black and gray and looked overcast. No MOON, but I noticed a single star off to the left of my mailbox. When I turned around to head back to the house, I spotted more stars and discovered that I was looking up at the BIG DIPPER. The “dipper” was upside down as if it was emptying itself. I tried to follow the pointer stars to POLARIS (THE NORTH STAR) but couldn’t find it. Actually a morning like this one is perfect for a beginning stargazer because only the brightest stars are visible, which simplifies the sky considerably.

Today it’s raining. It’s a dark, nasty, dripping day. I went out this morning to mail a few things, but I’m spending the rest of the day indoors by the fire. I’ve decided to burn all the scraps of wood that are lying around on the cellar floor as the first stage of cleaning up the whole basement to honor all the new wiring, heating, and plumbing systems that are now in place.

CHRISTMAS DAY. This afternoon Bob and I decided to take a walk in the woods behind the house. The snow wasn’t as deep as we thought it might be. We stopped by the Retreat and checked the cabin. Then we headed over to the Warbler Hotspot, up and over Lady’s Slipper Knoll, around my old cabin-in-the-woods site, and back home by way of the red and green trails. It was nice to spend some quality time together. We should do it more often. It felt almost like old times….

When I went out to get the paper this morning, I noticed a WANING CRESCENT MOON off to the left of my mailbox. It looked like a rocking chair tilted back into a comfortable position.

It’s the DAY OF THE WINTER SOLSTICE. I got up early this morning to be sure I was awake for the exact moment of the solstice, which was scheduled for 7:04 a.m. I was sitting at the kitchen table sipping my morning tea, when I heard a great crash and other loud sounds from outside the sliding glass door. I figured a big load of snow had just fallen off the porch roof, but then I heard thrashing and fluttering and spotted a RUFFED GROUSE huddled right up against the glass door looking in at me. It had flown through the top part of the screen door and trapped itself inside the screened porch. I woke Bob up, and by the time he was dressed, the grouse had fluttered over to the far corner toward the garden. He had to chase it around a bit before he finally caught it and put it outside, where it huddled against the house for a while. It could fly and didn’t seem seriously injured, so we just left it alone while we drove over to Shelburne during the early stages of a snowstorm to visit Johanne in her new condo. The roads were terrible the whole way over and worse on the way back. By the time we got home, the snow was piling up and the grouse was gone. What a way to celebrate the winter solstice!

Saw the MOON above the mailbox again this morning and noticed that it was just beginning to wane toward a crescent, which it will continue to do until it goes dark for the NEW MOON on December 27.

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