It was a cold, snowy day, and I awoke thinking about all the things I needed to do before Christmas, planning and wondering if I would have enough time to accomplish all that I wanted. Of course, there is always time for a cup of coffee, so I sat in my favorite lounge chair with a hot cup and my dog by my side, making mental notes and plans for the day, the room heated by that penetrating, osmotic warmth only a wood fire can give.
Soon I was out and about, doing some Christmas grocery shopping, and feeling very merry. The weather was cold and crisp and all before me was laid out in a soft white blanket, compliments of a fresh snow which had fallen a couple days before. The roads had been plowed, for the most part, and the ones that were still snow-covered had been flattened by previous traffic, and were quite driveable. So on the way home, Christmas carols blaring in the car, singing at the top of my lungs, I took a detour and turned off on a snowy country road.
I immediately knew I had made the right decision. After mere minutes of taking the turn, I was rewarded with the most beautiful sights. My first stop was a small horse ranch, where I spied a beautiful chestnut horse in the distance. I immediately pulled to the side of the road and got out of the car to take some pictures. To my surprise, the horse stopped, looked at me and trotted over to the fence to get a closer look. So I did the same, being careful not to mis-step in the deep snow. She greeted me as if I were a long-lost friend, lowering her great head over the fence, nuzzling me and braying softly, staying with me quite a while, as if she couldn't get enough of my affection and attention. Before I realized it, her foal had galloped beside us as well, shaking its head and wondering what all the excitement was about. They both were clothed in their long winter coats, hair, mane and tails blowing in the winter wind. I don't remember actually seeing horses in their winter finery this closely, and they were beautiful. It seems I had made their day; they certainly had made mine. They stayed a few minutes, then gave a whinny and off they ran—but not before I had taken some photographs.
I continued driving and soon came upon a a logging camp. Somehow, this sight was unexpected. I drove slowly by, as it was quite interesting to watch the work being done, managing to take a bit of video and a snapshot from my car window as I passed. I found it intriguing, as this scene is something I might normally only experience on The Discovery Channel, perhaps as seen through the eyes of Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs". And here it was in my back yard. It seems that even in frigid, snowy weather, the world must go on. Or, perhaps, especially in frigid, snowy weather, the world must go on...
I have always been fascinated with trains and railroad tracks. And, for some reason, they are even more attractive and appealing in the context of a snowy winter—decorated with the greenery of pine trees, bony fingers of bare tree limbs that seem to be pointing the way to life—much like the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come—the whispy dried brown briers and boskets peeking through the deep white snow on either side, and, yes, two deer who happened to cross the road just beyond the tracks, stopping briefly to consider me before bounding across the road, passing by a tiny covered bridge (red, of course) to the safety of the somewhat greener grass on the other side. No picture here—except in my memory—as I was too mesmerized by this "Christmas Card" to engage the camera!
I passed many farms of various sizes, beautifully decked out in the colors of the season. Somehow, there is something very Christmasy about a red barn in a snow-covered field, a hay wagon decorated with a green wreath. I think, living in the country, I sometimes take for granted the beauty that is all around me. These sights are before me always, but I sometimes do not see them. Like all people, I lose focus and sight of what is important, concentrating on my own problems and dissatisfactions and becoming so involved in the details or negative aspects of things in my life, missing the entire purpose and beauty of life, as a whole, altogether. I guess it's pretty much not seeing the forest for the trees...
A small detour became several hours before I realized I needed to get home to my dog, throw another log into the woodstove, turn on the Christmas tree lights and prepare supper for my husband and I. I had not meant to be gone so long, but the detour had become a found opportunity which filled me with the Christmas spirit through and through. It had been a good decision, which led to a better day and an even greater appreciation and enjoyment of God's special Christmas gift to His children.
Especially now, at Christmastime, there are gifts aplenty, gifts that anyone can afford, gifts more meaningful, more precious and more lovely than any amount of money can buy. The world is closer than you think—even as near as just outside your window, around the corner, or down a country road. I encourage you to explore the world of your surroundings and to experience the true gifts of this season or any season. I assure you it will be a memory not forgotten, one that gratifies the eyes, the ears, the soul.
Peace, and Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good, warm and memorable Christmas night.