My Early Christmas "Present"

It’s dark and the wind has been blowing for hours. Many of the windows are covered with snow, creating a tomb like ambience. But, I am safe and warm. I had fallen asleep reading while it was still light out and during that time, the fireplace had shut down. It felt eerie waking in the pitch blackness. I started to sing “Hello darkness my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again…” as I fumbled for the fireplace starter and matches. Within minutes, I was comforted by a glow of the fire and candlelight. “That’s better”, I said.

Last week, the storm that held so many people hostage in places that they didn’t want to be, had all of us held up at the ranch too. Jilian had made it home from town just in time before the no travel advisory came out. Colton finished checking on everything and everyone on the ranch before dusk settled in. Our good friend Gervase, again a resident of the ranch, stayed at the main house, taking care of the winged and domestic animals while Dan was away. If we lost power, he would have only the warmth of the stovetop to keep the chill off. And I headed to my studio where there is a gas fireplace and stove. I gathered candles and filled water containers in preparation as a Boz Scaggs song ran through my head, “There’s a storm a comin' goodbye to the sun, there’s a storm a comin' you better run…”.

My tiny studio is off the grid and runs on solar power. During late fall and winter, electricity is often limited. No sun means no power. Fortunately, I had enough juice left to ensure my cell phone was charged for connection to the outside world and my laptop was powered up for musical companionship in case the roaring winds and darkness became too much. I paced around like a rat in a cage before settling into the howling sound.

The next day the storm continued and around mid-afternoon I learned that the ranch had lost power too. All would be fine. We just had to hunker down and ride it out like the rest of the world that was going through similar experiences.

During the daylight hours, I did house chores. The kind you mean to get to, but push off to “later”. A later that often doesn’t come. The physical work felt good and satisfying after days of standing in front of my computer. When nightfall came, I poured a drink, settled into my glowing cocoon (adorned in a head lamp) and flipped through books of poetry. I was having the most wonderful day and was so very grateful for it. I thought of a saying that I had heard and really liked, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift – that’s why it’s called the present”. I sent out a little prayer of gratitude as my eyes grew heavy and I fell into blissful sleep with the wind as a now welcomed lullaby.

Somewhere around 4:00am the wind stopped. Around 6:00am, a thin strip of light that would slowly pry the sky from the earth appeared on the horizon. The smell of French Press coffee filled the tiny space as I watched the new day come, silent in its arrival. 

As dawn broke, art was illuminated everywhere. Windows were patterned in ocean like snow waves. Abstract ice murals clung to the glass. Snowbanks had been finely sculpted by the wind, and dried wildflowers held their heads high through the drifts, shivering in the single-digit temperatures, waiting to be warmed by the sun. More gifts.

I sent a text message to the kids: “Good Morning. How’s everyone? Do you have power?”

Jilian and Colton: “We are alive and well. Back online. Gervase is good too. You?

Me: “Cozy. Coffeed. Fed. Life is good.”

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  • Wonderful, thoughtful, quiet observations. I liked this little piece very much.

    Scott McNeff
  • We to settled in to a rather blisstery day and night. Next morning the scene was scerene beautiful snow scenes making the cars look like gaint snow balls. Time to clean the sidewalks. Always look forward to your wonderful stories. They paint beautiful pictures

    Larry Delgado
  • Thanks. Great to read about the thoughts and experiences of someone who is so “connected” and so grounded.


    Bruce Green
  • the winds may wail but your words don’t fail. happiness at how it all ends. wonderfully touching blog, thank you for the insight, Jill. more please!

    Blake O'Quinn
  • Such a lovely story I just stepped through it all as I sit with my tea. Life In milder climate (Texas) continues but this story, told so delightfully, had me right back in my childhood and the plains of Kansas.
    Merry Christmas🎄so nice to be a part of this (delicious) community.

    Casey Cogburn
  • Very Cool Jill Storms curently hitting California, very glad to have them, just say no to “drought”

    Mark Moench
  • Thank you — for ALL you do,.

    Lee Myers
  • Theirs nothing like a good storm to remind us of what’s important. Your story spurred old memories of storms I’ve ridden, out on the Plains. I used to head to the Sandhills with a truck full of cameras and gear just so I could be out there at first light. Merry Christmas to you and the Gang.


  • A fine piece of writing.
    A glimpse into your snow day.

    Kathy Antonen
  • Beautiful. The prose, the photographs, the author. Thank you. A wonderful start, to this new day.

  • Another written piece of eloquence Jill and with your ever amazing photographs to accompany it. How wonderful to hear your descriptions of blessings and beauty where so many would see only bleakness. Stay warm and safe. Best wishes for you all from us down here in SC!

    Chris and Kim
  • Your poetic writing is such a gift. Combined with your beautiful photos – Exquisite!

  • Phoenix rising from the ashes. You are in touch with the world around you. It is precious to be alive and to appreciate things so simple yet so complex.

    Jeffrey Kent
  • Not nearly so cold here in Northern California but the power out, hunker down, keep warm, cook on the wood stove sentiment is just the same. Thanks for the alls well reminder.😊

  • Jill, I love this. Your story was almost like being there. Beautiful!


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