Ice Storm

Winter took an icy turn this week with not one, but two ice storms.   In some ways, we should count ourselves lucky since most folks got much, much worse – in ice and snow – than we got here in New Jersey.  Still, the storm-of-the-week club is getting pretty tiring.  Thank goodness that Groundhog didn’t see his shadow!!

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Icy Fire in the Trees

Icy Trees

Following my earlier post and later in the morning, the sun broke through the clouds for a few moments.  I just happened to turn around and saw this scene developing before my eyes.  I love the way icy trees look in the morning light – takes some of the sting out of shoveling for several hours to clear my driveway.

After shoveling for a bit, we took a break and enjoyed blueberries for a snack.  I love all types of fruit but blueberries rank very, very high on my “favorites” list.  These were exceptionally juicy and sweet – a great mid-winter treat!

Another Storm

Sunlight reflecting through ice

Another Nor’easter has passed over New Jersey, leaving us buried in a foot or more of new snow.  This one was warmer than our earlier storms and delivered considerable amounts of freezing rain and sleet before turning to snow.  This was the view from my deck as the early morning sunlight illuminated ice-covered trees.

Beginning A New Year

Carousel

January 2nd, 2011.  Another holiday season, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, have come and gone.  The house is quiet today, the first day without guests or grandchildren in almost two weeks.  I miss it already.

 
Today we begin the “de-holiday-fication” of the house.  Empty containers will be brought down from the attic, filled with singing Santa dolls, holiday plates and glasses, leftover wrapping paper, and returned to waiting for another year.  Holiday photos, chronicling the passing of my grandchildren’s years through annual visits with Santa, are carefully wrapped and stored away.
 
And then the decorations will be removed the tree, along with needles that seem to fall at the very slightest touch.  After the decorations, and  many of the needles, have been removed, I’ll drag our Christmas tree through the snow to a collection point.  There it will wait, with several other discarded trees, for the township’s recycling truck.
 
The passing of the holiday season is always somewhat melancholy for me, more so this year I think because this was the first since my father’s passing.  His birthday fell in the middle of the holidays; something he loathed because he felt that it somehow diminished the significance or importance of his special day.  As a child, he was often given a single gift, we were told, for both Christmas and his birthday.  Feeling cheated for all those years, he made sure that we, his children, knew the importance of celebrating both events individually and separately.  For years, I would wait a couple of days between mailing cards and packages, to ensure that his Christmas gift would arrive on a different day that his birthday gift.  It was a little thing, but important.  He never mentioned it, but I think he noticed the effort. 
 
So now we face this new year with hope and expectation.  My wife and I, through her great fortune and good luck at contests, are planning a trip to South Africa for late Winter (their late Summer).  It is the trip of a lifetime for us and we are diving headfirst into the planning – picking flights, examining the itinerary and (optional) side trips, and reading over travel guides and websites.  The trip will consist of two weeks traveling from town to town in a 12 passenger bus, and the weight restrictions on baggage are quite severe.  My camera gear alone weighs the allowable limit for one bag.  Decisions, decisions.  Do I take photos or do I want to be able to change clothes, bathe and shave while I’m there?  No doubt, you can sense my dilemma!  Many, many more decisions, large and small, await us during the planning of our trip and I am savoring each of them.  Trying to go slow is, in many ways, like asking a child to slowly unwrap a long-awaited gift from Santa.  But I will try! 
May your New Year bring you good health, happiness, and fortune and the time to enjoy family, friends, and (perhaps) a glass or two of wine!