Pulling out the Mukluks

Belated Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! It was a wonderful weekend here, filled with good times, good friends, and of course, good food. We have about five inches of snow on the ground, so it looks like the start of winter. Addie was so excited on a recent day when she pulled out her mukluks. She's been waiting for the snow for several weeks now. The lake is still open, but it is cooling off. Our mornings are often filled with the grey steam off the water, and this in turn freezes on the trees, twigs and exposed blades of grasses down by the shore. It turns the shoreline into a mass of ice crystals, and it looks like a fairyland of sorts.

Our snow came in two recent snowfalls, and it does look like it is here to stay. Of course, about the time I say that, we get a freak warm-up and melts it away. Keeping my fingers crossed that this does not happen! I spoke with some folks who went out skiing all three days that they were here. They did the Lonely Lake trail, Big Pine, some of the Banadad trail, and even the South Rim! I asked about the rocks that might still be exposed, and they assured me that yes, indeed, there were still rocks out there waiting to dig into ski bottoms. We decided that those gouges and scars add to the memories of our early winter ski adventures. And that is also why we generally reserve an older pair of skis to be our rock skis! I may try to pull my pair out one day this week and see for myself how the ski season is shaping up.

We fired up the sauna last night, and took our first sauna of the winter season. Three members of our party were brave enough to make a mad dash into the lake. Because the shoreline has some ice on it from the waves splashing up and freezing, I guess that it was more of a fast meander than a dash. I was the self-appointed safety officer, and I held the flashlight so that they could make their way to shin-deep water. Then all three of them layed down in the icy water to cool off. Yipes! A moment passed and they made it back up to land without any mishaps, all the while talking about how wonderful it was to do that. I still can't. It is so much easier for me to just walk back up and take a cool shower. I think it is because I think about it too much!

The days are noticeably shorter as we approach the winter solstice. The sun is going down around 4:15 each night. On the days that it is cloudy, it feels dark even sooner. On Friday last, we pulled out the beeswax pots and the wick so that we could continue our tradition of candle-dipping. Several people joined us in the lodge kitchen to make candles to use during these short days. We've been doing this for about twelve years or so, and it is a pleasant way to start the holiday season. The candles that the kids made in the early years still hang on our kitchen light fixture. These are the ones that were a bit misshapen or a little too fragile to use. I like to see them hanging there, to remind me of those days so long ago. Now it is Addie who most often joins me to fashion some big beautiful tapers to use at the table. We don't always use up all of the candles during the year, but we still make more. It is actually quite relaxing to stand and dip the wick for several times, watching the candle build in size.

With snow on the ground, I feel certain that the bears have gone in to hibernation. I pulled out the bird feeder and filled it. Once again the chickadees and nuthatches are busy flying in and out to scoop up the sunflower seeds. We mostly see rose-breasted nuthatches, but occasionally, a white-breasted one will swoop in. I've seen many bluejays and grey jays in recent days as well. There is still an eagle flying about, as we saw him making several passes in front of the lodge yesterday. I'd imagine that when the lake freezes over, he will certainly head out, if not sooner.