20 December 2010

Winter Solstice; Yule Tree

As the days grow shorter and it seems as if the sun is about to leave the sky, we gather together for our annual Winter Solstice potluck celebrtion. Years past we gathered on local state or US Forest lands, but since Don & Andrea Stierle bought Frank Diebold's cabin at The Moulton, they have hosted the celebration. This year, three dozen or more foks gathered for the party. With deep snow closing the road, the gang arrived by skis, snowshoes, and some on foot.

Before feasting, I recruit daughter Emily to help pack The Yankee Boy cross country ski trail. Its steep ups & downs and twisting turns require a couple of snowshoe runs prior to grooming:

After packing, there is time for a ski (nothing like arriving back at the cabin with a big appetite!). Here is Emily followed by Andrea on the Wake Up Jim run:

After a big meal -- including a couple of Don's moose-burgers and a sampling of what everyone brought -- it's time for the big bonfire. Say goodbye to last year's regrets, affirm old friendships and make some new ones, and think about the year to come:

The next morning, Jan shoos Emily & I out of the house with a mission: bring home a Christmas tree! We drive to a favorite spot near town, park at the end of the road, and hike up a ridge dotted with Douglass Firs. What's this? Why, it's a herd of Santa's mule deer dashing across the hillside:

Instead of the usual Fir tree, Emily selects something a little different this year--a lovely, soft Rocky Mountain Juniper. She finds the wood a little tougher to saw through (meahwhile, MollyTheDog is keeping an eye on those deer):

It's a half-mile or so to drag the tree back to the truck, but all downhill on a crusty snow that (most of the time) supports our weight:

Soon we're back at the truck and ready to head for home:

Happy Yule-tide, everyone! If you'r out watching the lunar eclipse, watch out for Odin's Wild Hunt (aka the cowboy legend of Ghost Riders in the Sky ; here's a nice version of the tune on YouTube by Outlaws).


Elizabeth said...

What a gorgeous part of the world you live in ER. I'd love to go to a party and arrive by ski!! All the best for Christmas, and have a safe New Year.

Frostbite and Sunburn said...

Sounds like an absolutely fabulous way to celebrate - snow, friends and fires - fab! Glad MollyTheDog got the tree sorted out too - those pesky deer were surely a temptation. Have fun this week.

Anonymous said...

What a holiday tradition!

I like the the Emily picked, I see you made her lug it home.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Judy said...

Lots of great shots, as usual! I have been having a challenging time of it this month, but hope to get back into a routine again soon...
I love the idea of making slits in the roast and stuffing in the garlic and olive oil! I will have to try that!
And while I have your attention, is there an easy way to tell wolves and coyotes apart? On the drive home, we saw a couple of large canids near the road, shortly before it would have been too dark to see them.

Maria said...

Merry Christmas to you too ~ and your beautiful family *
Looks like you've enjoyed many fun hours in the snow! Everyone here is doing a good job talking me into cross-country skis :o)
It's only a matter of time!
*A blessed Christmas to you*

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Just stopping by to check on you ER....Hope you and your family had a fabulous Christmas. Bet that Christmas tree smells wonderful!!!!

We had a great Christmas here in TN --and had a WHITE one for the first time in years...

Happy New Year.

troutbirder said...

Home from Colorado and so catching up. What great fun with friends. We do the New Years eve party thing rather sedately now. Age is catching up to us but skiing in to the festivities sounds a lot better. Summer solstice was once celebrated when we were with a group high above Anchorage on a mountain whose name I can't remember. Happy New Year Eco!

secret agent woman said...

Hope you had a good Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Lisa Wilson said...

Looks like your winter is off to a good start! I was lazy this year and bought an artificial tree. Funny that the cat still wants to chew on it. Ha! Happy New Year!!