Even in the Tucson desert, it can get pretty chilly in the early morning around Christmas. On this Christmas Eve morning, it was under 40 as the dogs and I went out for a walk in the park, chilly enough for a lined jacket and keeping the cotton gloves on, but warmer than two days ago when the 26 degrees meant down jacket and hood and muffler and wool gloves. That night we had covered some of the cactus with sheets, and protected the arms of another with a plethora of Styrofoam cups (sorry, forgot to take a picture!).
Still, it is the Winter Solistice, and even leaving at 7:30am, and missing the red reflection of the dawn on the Santa Catalina Mountains by a few minutes (pic from another day), the sun was low in the sky that the first half of the walk was mostly in shade from the trees in the park and not warmed; of course, this is when the dogs stop most often to do their business. That it must have been some colder earlier was demonstrated by the frosted dew on the grassy part of park, not yet melted by the low sun. But it is quiet, even quieter than usual, with hardly any walkers (with or without dogs), joggers, or cyclists. Not sure I understand; you can take Christmas Eve morning off from running or biking, but the dogs need to be walked. I guess they’ll be out later…the only ones we run into, two friendly women with two friendly dogs, are generous, giving out treats to a receptive Fry and Maggie.
The birds in the trees all look bigger than normal, feathers puffed up to stay warm, the little house finches to the Cooper’s hawk. The quiet allows time to think, to reflect in this season that is an oxymoron of holidays of hope and positive thoughts as well as a time of painful memories of severe personal losses, that there must be good things in humankind to have created the sentiments that mark this time of year. While most of the news ranges from bad to worse, with leaders around the world, led by our own president, rattling sabers of war and spouting hatred in direct contradiction to the messages of Peace and Love that are ubiquitous this time of year. It is a time when the hearts of many are softened, at least a little; the time we re-watch films like “A Christmas Carol” and the Grinch and “It’s A Wonderful Life” to remind us that it is possible and, perhaps, even our world leaders can act upon the tenets that the religions that they profess to believe in are based on. And yet, as I feel anger rising at the irresponsible owner of the dog that left fresh poop in the middle of the path (someone must have been here earlier today, I guess), I realize how easy it is to not love. And I try to forgive, and hope.
I will not go through the litany of wishes for the many holidays celebrated at this Solstice, because I am certain that however hard I try I will leave out someone’s. But I will end with wishes common here at this time of year, and sincerely hope that they will come true:
“Peace on Earth, and Good Will to All.”