The weather has turned cold, even in my stretch of New Mexico; it’s not Wisconsin or Montana cold, but cold. Sure the sun still shines, but the cold evenings and mornings show frost and ice, the mountain is covered in white. My family; that small amount who live in the West are staying in my house. Mom prefers to sleep on the couch near the fire. It burns long and slow and makes a night in front of it a cocoon of warmth.
My aunt stays in the guest room, sometimes sleeping in her robe, the reason it appears is me. For you see, I, even in the coldest weather enjoy sleeping with the door open. Former girlfriends have referred to this as “Stephens meat locker,” I am not really sure why, but it seems the many nights under the stars of my youth, make sleeping indoors feel strangely claustrophobic. The cold air of the evening is refreshing to breath and under layers of down and comforters, makes for the perfect rest. Sometimes in the night I rise to look out the door. This time of year planets can be seen amidst clusters of stars that fill the sky in the 3 am timeline. The cold air bites at my body, my eyes, just awakened; strain to focus on the falling stars and movement of the galaxy.
Inside my home, we have strung lights and symbols of Christmas and the holidays, above my mantle in gold lettering one sees P-E-A-C-E weaving its way, next to ornaments, red, green and blue lights and fresh pine. The table is covered in cloth with images of reindeer and a community in the country, covered in snow. Santa is there also, flying high. This year we have included penguins, snowmen and Santa’s cut from cardboard or pressed paper, they cover tables and greet your arrival in the boot room.
No tree this year, there really was no time, with two cats and three dogs it also would face serious challenges of life and liberty. I have eaten way too much also. For having family, cold weather and colored lights seems to infuse hunger and loss of sanity. Or perhaps one losing their mind simply craves food to fill the void.
With Christmas a week away, plans now go towards a meal which will include my Aunts family and more friends and well, lots of food. There is nothing very environmentally sound about it all, rather it is part of the ritual of life, the celebration of the year, the hope and promise of the coming year.
We will exchange a few gifts, not many as the year has not been easy financially. Also, gifts are not as important as the company, laughs and bread we break together. I hope it will snow for Christmas, but so far it looks like it may be a day off.
I will build a large fire, which will make the room too hot with so many people. I will find a way to Miss Mass again, something that like my open door seems strangely liberating.
We will have our friends gather in the late afternoon, on a hopefully snowy day, cold and brisk at the very least. They will be greeted by a chorus of barking, yelping and jumping. Some will rejoice in the madness, others will enter quickly with a glance of fear. Music will fill the air and the perfume of juniper and pinon, and spoils of the kitchen will mix with timelessness of the holiday.
In the mountains nearby, coyotes will be on the move, the trails perhaps quieter with the dawning of morning. The small black bears of the Sandias may be resting if the snow is falling. Down in the Gila country, the wolves are moving, looking for elk that may have a damaged leg, from a fall. Some hikers will soak in the hot springs on Christmas day, feeling very lucky to be far away from family and the gouging of food and drink, in the heart of wildness.
We rush to slow down, we spend and rush, and suddenly finding the clock stopping for a few precious days, the phones and emails go quite, as the mind and the belly rest and inhale the last of the holidays. Some argue that they hate Christmas and all the commercialism that comes with it.
Some avoid the true meaning of giving; it’s just not part of their soul. I can only do what comes naturally, that is to share and celebrate with those I love. I think of my animal friends in the wild and pray for their lives and work towards their protection.
As the snow flies and the morning comes…….. Take the time to connect, share and to slow down and listen. For the land and its creatures will celebrate another day of life, the families they have created, the gift of food, and the luxury of warmth, the very things that which we celebrate each Christmas day.
Happy holidays to you and yours….From all of us at Bold Visions Conservation.
Bold Visions Conservation