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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  • Love it! A thousand reasons to be grateful!

  • Jill – This is just beautiful. The writing, the photos, the sentiments are a tribute to the place you all have created over these wonderful years. Thank you for this gift. Jane

    Jane Murphy
  • Life, indeed, is good. Thanks for sharing the view from your cozy cocoon.

    Chuck Beatty

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