Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Home for the Holidays

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved.

We came to her table, friends and family, sons and daughters, grandchildren and neighbor kids; we laughed, we cried, we teased and joked, complained and worried, grew older, changed shape, and eventually, moved on.

She’s gone now and it has been many years since I actually sat down at that table, but I’m always there at Christmas and Thanksgiving and every other day worth remembering.

Continued at... Home for the Holidays.

Rural Delivery
Holidays and Notable Events
Out of the Past
Amelia: An Oral History
Artwork: Home for the Holidays

Monday, December 22, 2014

Midwinter Delusions.

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 2007. All rights reserved.

Why is it that the coldest and stormiest days of winter seem to fall sometime after the solstice, in January or February when daylight is growing? Is it a build-up of cold arctic air in those long December nights that finally gets loose and spills southward into higher latitudes?

Correspondingly, the hottest days of summer seem to come in early August, which is well past the summer solstice of June 21.

Midwinter is an expecially difficult time -- an end time, the passing of a season and a year. Left alone in these dark times, it is hard not to reflect on losses and failures, vanished dreams and extinguished lives. What went wrong? How did things get so bad?

Continued at... Midwinter Delusions.

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Winter Solstice
Artwork: Mid-Winter Moonlight - by Marie-Francois-Regis Gignoux

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Chance of Showers

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.

The night is cold and moonless. Stars twinkle in frosty stillness. My breath rises from my lips as a thick fog, circling my head before it dissipates into the silence. 

I am out late in the dark, standing on a butte more than a mile from the nearest street light, because there's a chance of showers. Meteor showers.
Falling stars, or meteors, are not uncommon. You can catch site of one almost any night of the year, and some are even large enough and bright enough to break the light of day. But showers of meteors -- when long streaks of flame arc across the heavens not once, but many times -- are another matter.

Continued at... A Chance of Showers.

Rural Delivery
The Nature Pages
Meteor Shower
Perseids Meteor Shower
Artwork: Meteor Shower Umbrella

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Winter Lights.

by Michael Hofferber.
Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

There are some nights so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face. There are some nights so dark you'll lose your bearings, mistaking north for south and near for far. There are some nights so dark they penetrate the soul.

Once you've seen this kind of darkness it's easy to appreciate a flashlight, a candle, even a match. The glow of a campfire is like a warm blanket against the cold. The lights of town reassure us that we are not alone.

It is little wonder that early civilizations devoted so much attention to the heavens and obsessed on figuring out the mechanics of the seasons. Even those of us who live in cities notice the days growing shorter and the night extending its domain. How frightening it must have been to see the darkness and coldness of winter spreading while supplies dwindled. .

Continued at... Winter Lights.

The Nature Pages
Second Nature
Artwork: Golden Light Flows out of a Window on a Winter Night

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Risk Assessment.

There's a difference between choosing to take a risk and living with a risk taken by someone else.

I remember living in a large metropolitan area and realizing how vulnerable I was to other people's mistakes. An errant driver on the freeway, a negligent building inspector, or a germy waitress could end my life. Any number of things can go wrong in a chemical plant or a water treatment facility that would affect entire neighborhoods.
After being shortchanged at the drug store and having the kid who changed my tires neglect to tighten the bolts, or reading about the bridge that failed and the bus driver that fell asleep, it gets harder and harder to trust other people with my well-being.

Continued at... Risk Assessment 

by Michael Hofferber. Copyright © 1992. All rights reserved.

Rural Delivery
Out of the Past
Second Nature
Artwork: Carr Fork Canyon Seen From "G" Bridge