Two years ago, Christmas Day 2017, we had the first official “white Christmas” of our retirement here at Peeper Pond Farm. This year, with a forecast high in the mid-50’s, we weren’t optimistic about our chances for a repeat, but we actually received a morning surprise that was every bit as special.
I awoke on Christmas day uncharacteristically late (around 5:30 AM), so I was rushing about the house as quietly as I could to complete my morning routine. After feeding Calli and letting her outdoors, I quickly checked our e-mails, the weather forecast, and the local news on the computer before preparing to take care of our goats, Essie and Snowball. By the time I had prepared the goats’ morning apple treat, it was about 6:40 AM, and an early morning daybreak glow was beginning to emerge on the eastern horizon. As I exited the house into our barnyard, I noticed the bright sliver of a crescent moon rising just above Middle Mountain. The chilly air (the temperature was only 24 degrees) was clear at the time, and I could see the full disk of the moon glowing dimly in the sunlight reflected back to it from the Earth. The view was stunning, and I froze briefly in my tracks to appreciate the twinkling glow of the brightest stars sprinkled across the dark, cloudless sky above me.
Realizing that I needed to get my morning chores completed before Barb and our visiting son Mike awoke, I refocused my attention on the task at hand and fed the goats their apple slices and sweet grain, cleaned up their scattered poops from the barn floor, replenished their supply of water, and turned them out of the barn to enjoy the day. By the time I had finished my morning barn routine, the sky had brightened enough for me to see the landscape clearly.
At first, I noticed a few wispy cirrus clouds above the eastern horizon basking in a faint orange glow that brightened as the sunrise evolved. The air temperature had bottomed out so close to the dew point that I noticed an ethereal foggy haze building low in Brushy Run Hollow. The ground and trees were blanketed in a heavy coat of frost that tinted every blade of grass and every tree branch in a hoary glaze of silver that basked in the morning glow. When I approached the cedar tree in our yard for a closer inspection, I noticed how each bow and twig was decorated with delicate crystalline tendrils of frosty ice that glinted brightly as they melted in the rays of sunlight once the sun broke above the horizon.
I also noticed how quiet it was, as a gentle hush settled out of the still morning air. I watched as Essie and Snowball were standing quietly in their pen contemplating the stunning landscape with me. Perhaps even the typically boisterous animals and birds that surround our farm were awed to silence by the scene. Every breath I exhaled was revealed by a small puff of fog that hung briefly before me, then quickly dispersed into the frigid air. I stood in appreciation of the entire peaceful wintry scene completely captivated by its subtle beauty.
Christmas is a special day on which we celebrate the eternal biblical gift of spiritual life. It is a day of reflection and appreciation that, in our rush to conduct our traditional holiday rituals with family and friends, we occasionally forget to fully appreciate the bountiful beauty of the natural world that sustains us, regardless of whether it snows or not. Although my yearly hopes for a traditional white Christmas were dashed this year, I was reminded to appreciate the distinct beauty of the day we were given. After completing the rest of my morning chores, but before the sun broke over the mountains, I went out into the yard and took some pictures of the early morning scene. You can find them on the “Dave’s Pictures” page of our Peeper Pond Farm website.
We hope all of you who read this post had a wonderful Christmas, and that you were able to take the time to fully appreciate the natural beauty and wonder of the world around us. For that is the only way we can truly celebrate the life we enjoy. We all need to find some quiet time to reflect upon the full bounty of life, for no matter how long any of us may live, it is fleetingly short.