New Year

The moon is a thin crescent, waxing if I’m not mistaken. Orion sits a little more upright these days, and Jupiter blares on the eastern horizon. Earlier this afternoon the low-angle sun brought color to the cool sky. Northbound jets left  con trails crisscrossed by resident geese. I mention these things not because they’re remarkable occurrences but because it is unusual to see the sky, and the happenings aloft, through our winter clouds.

The green band of land that lies west of the Cascade crest and north of the California border is famous for its winter rain by rule. Yet, there are exceptions to each of nature’s rules and this rain-year we’re lagging woefully behind in precipitation.

Our mountains should have six-foot shoulders of snow this time of year but instead we’re all shrugging our shoulders at the barely six inches of snow barely clinging to winter. The creeks of Portland’s West Hills are behaving as if in their mild summer mode. Instead of tumbling torrents that threaten to burst beyond their channel, the streams whisper rivulets as they casually mosey to the Willamette River. The Willamette is flowing low and relatively clear of turbidity and debris. The loess mud of the hills too is out of sorts. Instead of the slip silt of most winters the trails are firm, even dry in places.

I’m not worried yet. We still have several months of winter ahead and one good February storm could restore the snowpack, streams, and miry mud, to normal. Besides, it’s not as if it hasn’t been cold. Our temps have been near or below average. Cold pleases my polar bear soul. I revel too in the fact that this dry weather pattern keeps the wind at bay.

Less rain and lighter winds means that the wood pile remains dry and cured. The fir wood carefully stacked outside last spring migrates indoors log by log. A large stack sits between me and the wood stove. Cold is fine outdoors but has no place inside. It is the cold outside that makes sitting by the fire on a winter’s eve oh, so pleasant. So, time to put another log on the fire, nod out the window at the setting moon, and then pick up my knitting as I sip some tea and nosh a little almond cookie.

The evening is promising to be lovely; the New Year will be what it will be but I’m expecting lovely ahead too. Here’s wishing you a year full of seeing the cup as half full regardless of the rainfall, chill, or if you’re sitting south of the equator, blazing sun.

Happy New Year

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