Christmas Contest: Christmas Eve greetings
On one of the few days when activities tapered to a standstill on the ranch, it took a few hours to appreciate this Christmas Eve Day and the solitude that was available when we allowed it.
With Christmas falling on a Monday and most of the pharmacy and ranch chores put on hold for a short period, there appeared this magical day with nothing planned. It took some conscious effort not to tackle the unfinished quagmire of problems left unattended for the year, but they were better left alone. The days before and after Christmas can be difficult for many if reflections are allowed to prevail, but, in the interests of others, those reflections are best saved for a more appropriate time.
The solitude, broken only by Christmas music, has taken a wonderful ambience today. Early morning rays were met by huge flakes of snow gently pillowing downward, a rare occurrence with no wind in Wyoming. For a few hours the landscape was quiet and it seemed all creatures were enjoying the spectacle.
The lake and the creek, now frozen, are barren and missing the hundreds of waterfowl that were there a few weeks ago. The golden colored willows mark the creek bed, the newly defined beaver habitat, and the many new ponds concealed by the light snow. Even the many bald eagles and species of hawks that patrol our riparian areas seem to have taken the day off.
It’s rare when Mr. Coyote and his buddies can’t be seen nosing along the creek, but no tracks scratch the landscape. Our Great Pyrenees positions himself above the pastures on his favorite vantage point, but close enough to his dish to maintain control should the magpies swoop in for missed morsels. The stillness today is totally uncharacteristic!
The red barns punctuate the landscape and contrast with snow-covered pastures. The trailers and implements are idle, and none of the llamas have ventured outside the barns to disturb the new white blanket laid down by Mother Nature. One of the multitudes of cottontail rabbits living in the barnyard emerges, but seems stuck in the snow, his feet churning like an animated cartoon figure as he seeks shelter under the llama trailer.
The biggest cock pheasant now returns to check out the feeding site that was empty earlier, and his golden breast traces a path through the snow toward the block.
Christmas seems to have granted even the pesky creatures a holiday, and they appear to be living in harmony. Their peaceful coexistence apparently radiates through the neighborhood. Even the rancher last seen when we bantered over water usage is greeted with a sincere “Merry Christmas” and his gift of Christmas pudding accepted in the spirit intended. Past differences were, for now, and hopefully forever, circumvented by the events of the season. Another set of tracks mars the snow as a neighbor brings fresh eggs, a gift to send south to a relative who apparently laid down a mire of praise about the goodness of ranch eggs on their last visit.
Now, as one of the shortest days of the year is waning, the golden willows are turning brown and the snow covered landscape to blue in the shadow of the mountain. The pheasant and his harem return to the feed block, sparring with the rabbits over its goodness. The llamas are peacefully ruminating after treats of oats, and the wind remains quiet as the big marsh hawk with his now white plumage cruises the creek. Mr. Coyote ventures across the creek, easily within rifle range of the ranch house, and leaps three vertical feet to pounce on his prey. Uncharacteristically, he carries it back across the creek, sharing with his companion who is dragging one rear leg.
As this Christmas Eve Day in Wyoming draws to a close, I’m thankful for the time granted me to reflect on its beauty. I hope our friendship this next year, whether new or old, can be enriched and maintained. I value your communications more with every passing year.
For those of us who are celebrating Christmas with our families miles apart, I pray that the distances can be closed. For those of you fortunate enough to be with your loved ones this Christmas – cherish the experience.
My heartfelt wish to each of you and yours is a very Merry Christmas!
Dan Schreiner ranches with his wife Ellen on Hat 6 Road near Casper. They own Silver Sage Llamas and Deer Creek Drug in Glenrock. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more entries in the Roundup’s Christmas writing contest, visit wylr.net.