24 December 2008

Merry Christmas

We took a walk, my dog and I, early in the morning Christmas Eve. The last few weeks, we have been overwhelmed with record snowfall and today looked as though it was going to be the only day with weather calm enough to let my German shepherd stretch her legs with a brief walk. Flicka’s leash in one hand, my camera in the other, we set a casual pace down a narrow lane in the first blue light of the morning; searching for a subject suitable for a holiday theme that I could post here.

This was the calm between two storms, the next arriving this afternoon, and hitting us hard on Christmas day. We will most certainly have a white Christmas this year.

There was no wind yet, not even a whisper of a breeze up in the snow covered pines that stood alongside the narrow path. I say path, it is actually a road out in the country, plowed wide enough to allow only a single vehicle at a time, a farmers access to something, most likely. The only sound, other than the crunching of the snow beneath my feet was a chittering squirrel up in the trees. An obese looking little creature with his winter fur and round belly, his athleticism was still respectable as he soared from limb to limb, dislodging the snow from the boughs with every landing. Too far away to photo, but his aerobatics were entertaining nonetheless.

As we walked, searching for a subject with a Christmas oriented theme, I thought back on the past year; of beginning this online journal with a focus towards motorcycles. I knew very little of blogging or of what to expect, therefore, I expected nothing; the only difference in respect to what I have always done with my journaling is that now I post some of my stuff here. What I discovered was a diverse community of people with similar interests from everywhere, sharing their experiences where ever they ride. What a concept.

I have enjoyed reading about new riders like Cecilie Hoffman early on when she first began her blog years ago and continued reading as she progressed in her skills and travels. I have found myself beholden to the instruction and counsel that Irondad has offered in his posts through the years, I’m always learning something there. Steve Williams and Alessandro Melillo for their writing and photography; I could go on, and I did in my thoughts as Flicka and I navigated the narrow country lane, down the side of a hill onto the valley floor below.

By now the sun had risen and as we rounded a curve in the road, we came upon a lone barn nestled up along the forest’s edge at the south end of the valley. It was here that the plowed road ended, a few hundred feet from the barn. For whatever reason, whoever plowed the way here to this valley floor had stopped, we did too. We stood there for a few minutes and watched the sunrise in this snow covered valley, at some point, a breeze developed and began to gently push on the back of my hooded jacket, I took this picture.

Lone Barn on the valley floor

We stayed a little while longer and then we turned our faces into the crisp breathe of winter and followed our tracks home.

Merry Christmas from the Palouse country to all of the new friends that I have made here in the past year, from the Turkish Coast to Canada and all points in between, God to you all.


21 December 2008

Meán Gheimhridh

This time of the year has been celebrated worldwide for thousands of years, so I know that it’s not just me.

The Celts recognized it as Meán Geimhridh, the Scots called it Hogmanay, a festival that was “imported” by the raiding and occupying Norse and embraced by the Scots, a variation of this festival is still referred to as “the Yules” on the Scottish Shetland Islands; 7th century Japan recognized it as Amaterasu, in Peru, Inti Raymi.

Whatever the culture and however it has been known, it has been recognized all around the world throughout the centuries. Most English speaking cultures recognize it currently by the Latin form of the words Sol- meaning “the sun” and Sistere- “to stand still”. The Solstice, which, in the winter represents the ebbing of the Suns lowest point on the horizon and marks the beginning of its ascent back into the sky and to longer and warmer days!

Noonday solstice sun on the Palouse

For those of us up here in the more northern parts of the world, the suns low position and shorter days are rather apparent, and every year that I grow older, seems to affect my mood a little more.
As of now, I can watch the weather forecast on the evening news every night with a little more enthusiasm and observe the daylight hours grow longer minute by minute and day by day, all the while, restlessly squirming in my lazy boy like a little kid in the pews during Sunday service making revving noises under my breath, shifting gears as I steal away down a quiet country road, warm wind on my neck and the scent of forest pine in my helmet.

Palouse sunset during the Winter Solstice

Every culture has a different name, and a different celebration for this specific time of the year. I don’t know what the motorcycle culture would call this time of the year but I do know how we’ll celebrate once the snow melts off of the roads.

Ride Well (At least in spirit)