I was awake at 4:30 this morning and knew immediately that sleep was over for the night. Meaning to be considerate, I tried not to toss and turn. The cats knew I was awake and began none too subtle encouragements for me to get out of bed. I gave in a few minutes after 5:00 when Charlie plumped his considerable furry bulk under my chin and commenced to purr at full throttle.
Heaving several adoring felines to the floor, I eased from bed, felt about in the dark room for warm clothes and slippers. Followed by a tribe of starving cats [so convincing!] I opened the living room curtains and stood for a moment in the glow of the full moon reflected from an expanse of snow.
I served the cat's breakfast and made a large mug of tea, sat here absorbed in reading.
Just before dawn, the moon slid off to the northeast and there were moments of cold darkness before the rising sun washed the snowy landscape in pale rosey gold.
I turned from the sunrise to see the huge pale round of the moon sinking behind the foothills. In the few moments it took to snatch the camera, pull on a warm vest and wrench open the front door, the moon had nearly slipped from sight. No time to fiddle with camera settings and way too cold for comfort!
Still shivering, I stood at the west window to record the glowing foothills as the sunshine gained in strength.
More frost feathers twirled and spun under the east entry overhang.
Grandson D. says they look like hanging "snow bats."
Looking through the south window toward the frozen pond.
Charlie sat on the windowsill watching the world wake up. When I picked him up his fur felt cold. Here he is sulking at the top of the new stairs, barracaded from entering the attic. I had attempted to comb snarls from his hair and he felt abused.
J. announced that we would travel to Casper today to buy a shower stall for the upstairs bathroom in the making. This is a trip of about 2 1/2 hours each way.
At the last minute he decided to drive our Toyota Rav 4 instead of one of the diesel pickups. We took the "scenic route" from Rawlins Jct, through Jeffrey City [which was never a "city, but is now a nearly abandoned uranium mining town] down to Muddy Gap and thence to Casper.
There are three building suppliers there and J. decided to check them all. After the first two we were ready to stop for a late lunch.
The wind blows in the Casper area most of the time. By mid-afternoon when we reached the third builders' supply, it was an adventure just to walk across the parking lot. We chose some prefinished hardwood flooring, selected a shower, picked up a few odds and ends. By the time we drove around back of the complex to load the shower, the wind was brutal and sharp crystals of snow whipped from storage shed roofs, while the tarps covering stacks of lumber snapped and flailed in the icy wind. J. had been told that the shower unit would be boxed. It wasn't, so we wrestled to strap the thing onto the car's luggage rack. During these few minutes the flung snow iced over the windshield. We headed out of town through gusts of wind which buffeted the car and sent swaths of snow drifting across the road.
I sensed we were in for a tedious drive home with the laden car bucking the wind.
"Why, "I demanded, "are we driving this silly car when we have two trucks?"
J. who never admits a mis-judgement, replied, "Because the red truck has the water tank on it and Nort'n has developed a vibration which wants checking out before he is driven this far."
["Snort'n Nort'n" being the beloved 92 Dodge pickup.]
We drove through the deepening twilight, between snow covered foothills stained with the deep red-orange of sunset. As the light faded, we watched for the rising of the blue moon. It sailed low in the night sky, shrouded in clouds of a luminous blue-grey, first behind us and then after the road turned, there it was on our right.
By the time we reached the Junction, the wind had eased and the moon was lifting above the cloud bank. J. stopped the car in the drive to fill Pebbles' hay bin. She pounded up from the lower pasture, a dark shape in the silvery light.
We were welcomed home by a surge of cats, protesting that their TEA was hours late. J. lined up their clean dishes and served their treat while I gathered the camera and hauled on Carhartt bibbs against the cold.
I used the "night snapshot" setting on the camera and kept a gloved finger over the flash. The photos are not very well defined, but did capture the strange bronze-tinged aura which surrounded the moon.
Inside now--to sleepy warmth and the company of well-fed cats.
Images whisk through my mind: sun on snow; a herd of antelope surging down a distant hill--as J. remarked--- like a flow of brown water; hawks, wind-ruffled, perched watchful on fence posts and power poles; golden eagles tearing at the frozen flesh of a road-killed deer; the wind--always the battering wind--scourging the brittle brown grass on the high plains, driving tumbleweeds along the fence lines; flinging dry snow across the highway; wind scalding our faces and burning our eyes whenever we leave the car to dash across a parking lot. Coming home--red sunset staining high rocky crags and lingering in molten pockets in the foothills.
Wind, night, and the full moon following us home, while the hours tick away to another year.
The guest cabin looms in the night.
I pulled on heavy clothes and went back outside at 10 PM, looking for the moon, warning J. that if I didn't reappear in a few minutes it would be good of him to come and save me from freezing to death.
It was much brighter outside than the photos show. My shadow walked with me. Pebbles heard me wallowing about in the snow and whickered, so I plunged around the north end of the porch and headed for her pasture.
I was startled when this photo appeared in the view finder after I pressed the shutter. I think "atmospheric" might be the descriptive word? Since I don't drink and don't believe in ghost horses, I concluded that I snapped the photo just as Pebbles snorted out a great cloud of steamy breath.
Ah, a wild creature of the night, with glowering eyes!
My little room glows from within: geraniums on the sill; the books, the comfy battered chair, the sewing machine and the computer--all waiting for me in the warmth.
As I suspect that I am now well beyond tired, and about to wax sentimental, I wish you joy and peace in the New Year!