23 December 2007

The Moulton Journal: Winter Solstice Party, Moonlight Ski

How often does the Winter Solstice occur with a full moon? With that happy coincidence this year, and a dump of fresh snow, a large group of friends converged on Don & Andrea Stierle's ("DnA") cabin at The Moulton. Highlights of the party included food (of course), dancing naked around a pyre (well, just kidding about that naked dancing), and moonlight skiing. Here's Andrea, the gracious hostess (for info on DnA's research, see the recent New York Times article at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/us/09pit-.html):

At least one of two things is necessary, I think, if you are going to live in Montana. ONE, you need to like snowy, cold weather and the kind of outdoor activities (such as skiing) that go along with it. And/or TWO, you need a good circle of friends with whom to socialize. Without at least one of these, you will gradually succumb to cabin fever as the blustery storms of November turn to the long dark days of December, or when the bright and sunny but frigid cold days of January and February turn to the brief false hopes of spring that come in March, or when winter settles back in for the duration of April only to give way to renewed false hopes of spring in May which leads to a big snowstorm in June that bends your lilac blossoms to the ground.

Here are some of those friends, heading outside and circling a large pile of beetle-killed lodge pole pine slash:

Don't stand too close--that's Bill "The Pyromaniac" Macgregor dancing around the woodpile, pouring on the gasoline (we really should do an intervention next year, and hand him a can of #1 diesel instead):

Feel the burn. Without the annual winter solstice pyre, the days would grow shorter and shorter as the light of the sun and all are hopes grew dimmer and dimmer. Next thing you know, we'd all be building religious shrines on the ridges, such as "THEIR Lady of OUR Rockies" (see http://www.ourladyoftherockies.com/). Thankfully, that's not happening. This crowd will settle for a good old pagan bonfire:

And a ski, helped out by the Good Samaritan Groomer (aka Paul Sawyer) who spent that morning laying down the corduroy. Turns out there wasn't much moonlight, thanks to a heavy cloud cover that helped keep temperatures at a reltively balmy 8 or 10 deg F. Here's Butch Gerbrandt, Emily Munday, and RTD at Amalgamation Junction:

At the Winter Solstice we are like Robert Frost's traveler (or Emily), standing long and contemplating alternative futures for the New Year. All good wishes for whatever path you take:

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