A happy New Year

lift.jpgWe went skiing again today, with friends this time, one of who is planning on having shoulder surgery in the next few weeks. Being the fact that it might be his only chance this season to catch some snow we quickly decided last evening to make the trek and this morning found us speedily making sandwiches and hot drinks to go. With another 30 plus inches since last week the snow was again marvelous at Look Out Pass. What a joyful way to spend the last day of the old year. May it also be so with you! Have a wonderful New Year.

These are photos Matthew took late this afternoon while he was waiting for Steve and I to finish our last run. The next ski trip I want to photograph the snow ghosts on the north face. (Trees completely blanketed with snow.)

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Collecting Light

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I stumble on winter
light born from a hesitant morning
and carry it
into the long, chill night.

I no longer know where we are
in this circle of days,
is this a blue rim of dawn
or the edge of deep evening?

We meet the day together in a dark kitchen
the slow dawn brightened by white fields
snow lying in wavy crevices
along the chiseled scarp of rock cliff.

We won’t stray far from here while it storms
the fire will burn and keep us warm for a long time,
and the gift of days will pass lengthening
while we gather sun rays in our pockets.

[tags]winter in Montana,snow,long nights,environment,nature[/tags]

Woven fields of snow

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and/or winter celebration. We went skiing on Christmas Day; a first time for us this season and also a first time skiing on Christmas. We met my brother and his wife on the mountain for a day of marvelous powder, shared hot chocolate Mocho’ out of the thermos and homemade salmon spread with sandwiches in the lodge. The slopes were not particularly crowded and the snow was excellently groomed.

I nearly feel like an outlander when I return to the world below, after a day spent on the mountain. The return to news of assassinations, suicide bombers, and the rising (or plunging) stability in currency markets feels foreign and disjointed in perspective. How can it be like this when there is such peace and goodness to be found? How can I so easily lapse into feeling helpless and carry a great loneliness in my heart when I read of such things? Where and how will we grasp this peace and never let it go?

Most of us likely find it difficult to hold the reality of violence in the world totally at bay. The manner of things sometimes have a way of sneaking up and really getting to us. This is why small respites such as the Holidays are so important; they provide a refuge, a shift in focus, a chance to be with loved ones or more deeply experience the positive influences in our lives. We seek beauty and often find it. We reach out to enrich precious bonds of friendship or connections and we might feel loved in return. No relationship with another person seems trivial or light. Each encounter with peace and goodness is a gift — a whispered memory of strength, hope, light and courage. For me, it seems no random occurrence that we are reminded of these basics during the Christmas season.

Photograph by Matthew taken this afternoon overlooking Proctor Valley.

Solstice Swans

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We took Aly and the college kids, who are home on break, Geocaching this afternoon. We stopped along the way to see the swans and geese resting on shore along the Flathead River. There were about twelve swans and about a hundred geese who were all taking their leisure in the winter sunshine on an island across the channel from us. It was a nippy 31 degrees with a cold wind blowing but they appeared to be content on their quiet refuge. What a terrific way to spend the day before Winter Solstice which takes place at 6.08 UT, so for us that is late this evening, or 1.08 a.m. for you in EST. If you wish to you can even watch a live webcast of the sun rising at Newgrange:

The Winter Solstice event from inside the chamber at Newgrange will be broadcast on the mornings of Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd December 2007. If conditions are good the rising sun will illuminate the passage and chamber between 8:58am and 9:15am GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

Solstice greetings to you all from the swans and us on this longest night.

[tags]swans,Flathead River,winter solstice,geese,winter[/tags]

WWI Draft Card

A friend of ours has been, just for fun, sleuthing our family history and found this draft card of Matthew’s grandfather dated 1917. Horace was 21 at the time and not yet married to Matthew’s Grandma. It was so strange to view the card in his Grandfather’s own handwriting from so very many years ago. Alasdair has Horace’s old WWI helmet and some army-issued items from his great-grandfather’s time in that awful war.  Matthew’s Mom remembers Horace as a reticent, very gentle-spirited person.  I wish I had gotten a chance to meet him but he died before I knew Matthew.

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Thursday Tunes: Sharon Shannon

This is such a festive sounding set that I wanted to share it. I know I missed my (sometimes) posting of Tuesday Tunes but Thursdays often require a bit of spark to make them stand out amongst all the other weekdays. So, enjoy this bit of Celtic celebration. I’ve been playing said set about once a day just to keep everything in perspective. As the week towards Christmas winds down (or up, depending on how you approach the season) this video is brief, smooth and relaxing; featuring Sharon’s awesome button skills which will surely make your toe tap or coax a smile. And, oh look! A BANJO!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZGJCuy_9c8

Million Dollar Fudge

I have no idea where this fudge recipe came from other than out of the vast library of recipes which are my Mom’s. She brought three recipes with her the other day when they were visiting. I offered to make the fudge this year so she wanted me to have my choice. We both decided on this one selection because it is quick and it makes a large batch – it says five pounds but I have not yet weighed the dark, solidifying substance which is now cooling on my table.

This took us less than 15 minutes to assemble. You cook (boil) the sugar, evaporated milk and butter for six minutes then simply add it to the other ingredients. Then you get your big muscled friend to stir like crazy. He did too; we both did. It was a work-out! So, if you truly want to make holiday fudge this year but do not have a lot of time to stand at the stove, stir, and check the candy thermometer for 25 minutes then try this one. It is not the recipe handed down from my Grandmother, I’ll post that one some other time, but this Million Dollar Fudge is quite tasty.

3 large bars of any kind of chocolate with almonds (about a pound)

2 packages of chocolate chips (I buy ours in bulk, so I’d say about 24 ounces)

1 pint of marshmallow creme

1 Cup chopped walnuts

Prepare the above ingredients and combine into a large pot or bowl to mix. Keep in mind you will add the hot sugar mixture to all of this too.

Boil 4.5 Cups Sugar, 1 tall can of evaporated milk (that’s what it said: Tall) and 1 TBSP of Butter

Bring this sugar mixture to a boil and stir constantly for six minutes while it cooks on medium heat. Pour over first set of ingredients and beat by hand until thoroughly blended and thick. You have to move quickly to transfer it to a cooling cake pan or whatever you wish. Cool and cut into serving squares.

[tags]recipes,fudge,candy making,holiday treats[/tags]