Entering Winter

December 27, 2020

            Tonight I sat outside as the sun went down, taking in the live oak trees shedding their small oval leaves and watching the screech owl poke his head out of the box.  The moon was already up and almost full, an appropriate way to end the year.  Especially this year.  On Christmas Eve we witnessed the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in the sky.  It was  after 6 p.m. and the sky was so black and clear, as it has been lately.  There were the two planets, one shining slightly below and to the right of the other, shaped almost like shining crosses.  It is quite humbling to stare into the blackness and see two diamonds flickering in the night sky.  City lights mute the majesty of the stars and planets, separate us from their magnificence.  It takes a quiet walk on a dark night with a dog to look up and realize how beautiful the world is and all that is beyond us. 

            The week of Christmas was mostly clear and sunny, if a bit windy.  Mornings began in the high 30s and low 40s and warmed up to 50º, 60º, and today to 70º.  It felt warm for December, but December has been getting warmer and warmer each year.  It worries me, but I am still grateful that I can spend 365 days of the year outside. 

            Today we hiked at McKinney Roughs taking the Pine Ridge trail.  The ponderosa pines along the trail have long spindly needles in a vibrant green.  The needles fall to the ground, forming a soft bed.  The woods are thick with oaks and cedars, and the trails are covered with chert.  We didn’t see many birds, but it was the middle of the day; some sparrows scared up out of the bushes, a wren, a cardinal. 

The Monterrey Oak’s branches are bare and the red oaks have lost most of their red and brown leaves.  The wind has done it, blowing the leaves in strong gusts and collecting them in corners of yards and along the curbs.  Autumn has slipped by, the days shortened second by second.  We have entered winter, the season of darkness. 

Christine Baleshta