Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sierra foothill Christmas Day

Sunny, clear and crisp. Light frost in the morning.

Later we headed out to drive, walk and observe ...

Very little traffic.

Sheep and goats grazed where llamas stood guard. Calves are growing. The deer dressed now for winter's cold.

Turkeys loitered on new grass under a broad, bare-limbed oak.

Acorns abound.

A lone angler at the Middle Bar Bridge found refuge from the chaos of Christmas cooking and the temptation of food on every countertop. Fish weren't biting, but that mattered little.

The Mokelumne flowed clear and cold. A lone bald eagle soared overhead. Willows wore warm winter gray.

The trail's grass and leaves were slick from recent rains. Lichen, moss and fungi flourished. Lovely oak woodland. Gnarly old manzanita. Black slate here, white quartz there. Goldfinches.

Quiet now, except for geese. (Geese are not often quiet.) Not a duck in sight.

Returned on Gwin Mine Road. Patch on patch, but not a single car or truck. Dry remains of last year's flowers -- moth mullein, dudleya.

Red-tail hunted above the hills.

Jackson was quiet as people cooked and dined. First responders had no holiday. CHP, sheriff and police cruised; Jackson Fire and CalFire responded. A vehicle fire? Volunteers' dinners had to wait.

Clerks at Safeway wore Santa hats. Young men bought beer. Lots of it. One woman bought seasoning -- the missing ingredient?

Where do gossip magazines fit on Christmas?

Home to nap, then Sally's gift of Virginia ham.

Season's greetings to you, whatever your belief or holiday tradition. Enjoy the beauty and peace of this wonderful place we live.