Happy Christmas from the Barrens!

It was Christmas day, and a strange one indeed. For we'd already done our holidaying and our visiting ahead of the big snowstorm that hit us hard and then was followed by frigid temps for days and days and days on end.

A few weeks ago, my husband had insisted that we sign up for takeout for a free Christmas meal offered by the Presbyterian church downtown. At the time, it seemed stupid to do so, for we are always somewhere else for Christmas day. But weirdly enough, this time, we weren't.

So as it approached the time for us to go and pick up our meals, it was cold out (maybe 15 degrees F), and my husband went out to see if his car would start. The outside car is a big, black American car with heavy doors, most of which were (as it turns out) frozen shut! Oh, and count on it taking a while to warm up the car and get the ice and snow off the windows.

So we put some recycling stuff in the car, to drop off in town after our pickup, and some library books to return at the library drop box by the bistro, and he opened the driver side door and I crawled in over to the passenger seat. Success! The car had started and we were in it! So far, so good!

And then we got on the roads, which were horrible, and went into town. The road we live on was crap, but route 550 was possibly even worse: big ice ruts and frozen snow from blowing and drifting the night before. Atherton Street wasn't too hot either, but that's life in winter time around here. Travel can range from okay to not so fun to scary to life-threatening at times. You will learn to drive in it or die trying, is my experience.

We picked up our lovely meals (ham, scalloped potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, and cookies) at the Presbyterian church and gave a love offering (donations accepted, of course) as well as our thanks. My husband had to get out HIS door to grab the meals, as my door and window were still frozen shut. I'd tried to open my car door at the church: no go!

Then we headed up Atherton Street to drop off the yogurt containers for recycling by the ClearWater Conservancy building across from Sheetz. Well, there is a part of Atherton, right around where it junctions with College Ave., that is really rough. The whole surface is off and it is a nightmare for bumps. Seriously. You need to go through this section at about 5 miles an hour.

So guess what. We hit a bump, and suddenly, my passenger side door came OPEN! OOPSIE! - OH NO! There was cold wind blowing in, and I caught a glimpse of gray, snowy pavement outside, as the door began to SWING OUT!!! Of course, I grabbed it, and I spent the rest of the trip holding onto that door for dear life! And giggling! For I could not stop myself from laughing, in thinking how ridiculous it all was!

I could have tried swinging the door out and closing it, but I wasn't sure it would latch, as sometimes the latches freeze at this temperature, and the door simply bounces off. (And another warning: at these temps, Pyrex bowls full of water can shatter - this happened a day or two before on our front porch, with a water bowl we leave out for the neighbors' cat.)

So I have to tell you it was with great relief that we stopped the car, tried my door (which opened very nicely now, thank you very much, and closed and latched just as nicely), and then dropped off our recycles, before heading back home. Whew! I went in to town and back and lived to tell the tale!

We dropped the library books off at the drop box and then my husband dropped me off by the parking lot to the Barrens. T. Tiger and his Christmas tree were in my little waist pack (he wouldn't go ANYWHERE without his festive tree on Christmas day), and so we headed to our favorite pond for a little Christmas photo shoot.

Above is a picture of T. Tiger and his Christmas tree at the Barrens, wishing all of you a happy Christmas! I also took a picture of just the little tree by itself on the entrance path into the Barrens, and you may see that one in the extras.

I'll conclude this little weird adventure tale by saying that I hope you had a happy Christmas, all things considered! Know that in the woods, we creatures are wishing you well and contemplating the miracles of Christmas amid the snow!

Our soundtrack songs are these: Celtic Woman, with Do You Hear What I Hear; and Chris Isaak, with White Christmas.

P.S. I wasn't going to tell this part because I didn't want to make anyone sad at Christmas, but what the heck, I tell you most everything else, so why not! Last year, Ellen, one of my best friends in the world, died very quickly and unexpectedly from cancer. This past spring, I scattered her ashes in the Barrens, and she became one of the pink ladies who live there. As I brought my Tiger and his Christmas tree to the woods, we hollered out, "Merry Christmas, my Bootie Boot Boot!" Now, Ellen and I were office-mates at PSU for many years, and you don't know this but I do. I bought us a little Christmas tree (originally less than a foot tall) that was a Norfolk island pine, and it was already decorated. Ellen's and my Christmas tree grew up and became a bigger tree and came home to live with me when I left my Penn State office. So that tree is still here, probably 30 years later! "Our" original Christmas tree may be too big to go to the Barrens with me these days, but this tiny tree is travel size, to be sure. Anyway, the long and the short of it is that T. Tiger and I (and the tiny tree) wished my friend Ellen a Happy Christmas in the Barrens.

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