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Midwest Today, January 1997

C O U N T R Y   C H R O N I C L E

winter scene



The world is hushed as nature takes a quiet rest and Winter sleep; the woodlands dream their tranquil dreams, the soul refreshes from the calm.

The horned owl huddles on a low branch, the furtive rabbit is abed, the woodchuck is hibernating, and the crow all alone in the field. Ice enclosed, the little brook is mute.

Cygnus, the Swan, is in full flight along the lower reaches of the Milky Way. Walk the countryside these evenings and the whole universe accompanies you, the stars twice as bright as the sky is doubly clear.

The wind hurries over the hilltops and down the valleys, and the leafless trees offer little resistance, their silvered branches back lit by an opalescent moon.

This is the time for long wool socks and hot cocoa, sleigh bells jingling on the harness. The open fire of hearthside gives warmth like that between two friends.

The air is redolent of pine and balsam and hemlock, of mistletoe and holly, needled and bright-berried symbols that life endures.

Snow may come, as it did late one recent afternoon, while a blue-pink dusk descended. The snowflakes were enormous, coming at us in swirling, dizzying eddies. The evergreens wore thick coats of ermine. The old farmhouse sat wrapped in robes of silence.

Here in the country, snow nourishes and protects our fields, even seals and insulates our homes and barns against the cruelest stings of Winter.

The slushy streets of our nearby village are aglow with modest little houses ambitiously decorated with lights.

Our Christmas tree is adorned with treasured old ornaments, their colorful glass in rainbow hues.

Scented candles -- slender, solemn tapers that spread altar light in the churches Christmas Eve; and flickering, stubby candles that gleam through frosted windowpane, bespeak a ray of hope in a troubled world.

The steepled church in the valley chimes out the good news. It's Christmas.

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