Friday, December 21, 2012

The Weekend Before Christmas

 The Weekend Before Christmas


This is the weekend before Christmas. Soon it will be all over with and we'll have another year to wait for the best holiday of the year. At least it's the best holiday I can think of. I've always loved Christmas even though it always seemed an opportunity for my mom and dad to fight. It helped that they didn't start fighting until us kids had already ravaged most of the presents. At Christmas the idea is to be happy. It's the darkest part of the year. The tradition is to put up lights on the tree and the houses and this, in my opinion, make it a lot easier to keep that jolly spirit. We humans come up with some pretty good ideas sometimes. It makes sense. Soon it will be time for our traditional New Year’s Eve bonfire. Last year we nearly melted the water system but that’s another story for another time.
Here at the ranch work goes on same as it always does. The animals don't know anything about the holiday. They just want plenty to eat and a warm dry place to hang out. So there I am out before breakfast helping those creatures who are depending on me. They've been standing in the rain all night and it was raining cats and dogs so everyone's soaked. They have to be hungry and the hay really helps them stay warm on their own.
The creek is way up. A raging torrent as a matter of fact. It's our very own mountain stream. The water comes out of the mountains of the Mendocino National Forest into hundreds of little tributaries and Watson Creek is one. Except that today Watson Creek is not little. You can hear is roar all the way to the house. Watson Creek water flows into Stony Creek which runs down into the valley until it reaches the Sacramento River which flows into the Delta and San Francisco Bay. The final destination is the Pacific Ocean. So if you’re driving over the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate and you look down you’ll see water that came all the way from our ranch. I should put some pink dye in it so you can tell which water is ours.
It’s a real workout feeding and caring for the animals while it’s raining like crazy. First you have to get really bundled up. I've found that I need about 600 layers to stay warm. I start with the silk long johns. Then it’s the warm up suit covered by my Dry Duck ranch jacket which is cotton duck with quilted lining. Over all that comes the rain suit. The feet get insulating Carhartt socks and tall Wellies. The head gets a fleece lined cap with a visor and flaps that velcro underneath the chin. I wrap a scarf around my neck so wind dosen't leak down my neck. The hands are the most challenging to take care of. The water proof gloves are very warm and dry but they’re not very good for jobs needing dexterity. So often they come off and then the hands get cold and wet. Then the insides of the gloves get cold and wet when I put them back on. I think I need to invent waterproof insulated fingerless gloves. That way only the very tippy tips of my fingers won’t be happy instead of my whole hand.
 In this “Christmas Story” get-up where I resemble The Mummy I can function if I take it slow. Taking it slow helps because rushing around might lead a person into making a decision that winds up costing more work. So I take it slow and think about everything I do and what the consequence might be.
I hope you're staying dry wherever you are! I'm making English shortbread cookies today. I'm putting chunks of dark chocolate in half the batch. Come on over later and we'll have tea and cookies!
“For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone.”
    Audrey Hepburn

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