Christmas Eve in Vermont

Two days ago we had an ice storm. From our point of view, it didn’t come to much; we never lost power and all our preparation was for nothing. We got a quarter inch of ice on our branches and deck railings and so on, but we never even had to salt the driveway.

Well, yesterday things changed a bit. A steady cold drizzle caused our driveway to crust over like a rink, and trees that had been drooping just a bit started to droop a lot. And, last night at 1:00 a.m., our power finally went out. After, I might add, we’d drained the bathtubs of the extra-water-to-flush-toilets-with and after I’d dumped out the extra pitchers of drinking water that I’d had sitting around everywhere in the kitchen. I was able to log the outage on the Green Mountain Power outage website using my smartphone, then went back to bed, wondering if we’d have power back by Christmas.

Turns out we were without power for about three hours. I guess the crews in our area had mostly gotten caught up, because that’s quick for an ice-storm-related outage. Carole never even knew the power had gone out; she slept right through it. I only noticed because, strange visitor from another planet that I am, I keep a fan running in my room at night, even in wintertime; I like the white noise and the moving air. When that suddenly went away, I woke right up.

This morning I went down the driveway with a pruning saw to cut the tops off some birch trees that were drooping further and further into the driveway. We could ram our way past them, dislodging hundreds of little pebbles of ice, but it probably wasn’t doing our cars’ paint any good. With temperatures in the low teens and newspaper headlines informing us that the ice was likely to hang around for a while, there was really nothing for it but to do some ad-hoc wintertime pruning. I lopped off the top 20 feet or so of each tree and, relieved of the weight, the rest of each tree rose high enough above the driveway not to be a problem any longer.

Tonight we’re going to go to church three times. Good little Bible-thumpers, aren’t we? We’re not normally that zealous, but each of the three services tonight is very different. There’s a children’s service at 5:30, which is normally kind of a hoot and promises to be especially so this year because Joseph and Mary will be portrayed by toddlers. Carole and I are each reading a lesson in the 7:30 Service of Lessons and Carols, and then there’s the 11:00 candlelight service with Silent Night and communion.

We’re otherwise keeping Christmas pretty simple. Carole actually had to work today, a half day, but spent most of the time wandering around her office with some co-workers, caroling. We’d earlier agreed that we wouldn’t do gifts and the tree this year, but Carole had second thoughts a day or two ago. She said it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without some gifts, although she had no idea what to get me. So, I went out this morning and had a massage for stress relief and relaxation, my own little gift to myself, and got Carole a few gifts that will hopefully make the day seem a little more Christmassy after all.

I’m not cooking tomorrow. I’ve gotten tired of doing big meals for holidays just for the two of us. Instead, we’re going out to the Inn at Essex, which does a great holiday buffet, mid-day, and then in the evening we’re going over to some friends’ house for another Christmas dinner.

I hope everyone is safe and warm and happy this Christmas season, wherever you are. We have so much to be grateful for: our health, each other, and all of you, our friends. Take care, and have a merry Christmas.

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