In a cozy December daze on our little rock

Not quite Rudolph, but that’s what I call the buck who likes to lounge in our front clearing this time of year.

DECEMBER IS A UNIQUE MONTH on our isolated island.

A grump could call this Tuesday morning dreary, with low clouds fogging the treetops and cold drizzle pooling on the cedar deck.

But I’m lounging in my big wicker chair inside our wall of windows and sipping a hot mocha. Vince Guaraldi’s jazzy “Charlie Brown Christmas” soundtrack plays softly on the stereo. Outside, Purple Finches, Nuthatches, Spotted Towhees and Downy Woodpeckers mob our feeders, and the last shivering blooms of our summer fuchsias add pink and red to the string of holiday lights draped from the railing. I spy to see if Rudolph is still lounging among the salal in our front clearing.

Well, he’s not actually a reindeer. And his antlers are not going to win him any trophies (just as well). But there’s something comforting about having the buck deer hang out, cushioned by the mosses. We’re happy to lend him the hospitality of The Nuthatch’s half-acre.

A stray ray of sunshine lights up the hardy fuchsia blooms that continue to add ornamentation to our deck planters.

Human neighbors are few here this time of year. We wave all the harder when we see them. Outdoor chores, when weather allows, are mostly limited to cutting more firewood to fend off the chill. The year’s shortest day is less than two weeks away.

Wintry winds mean we don’t use the boat much. We’re hunkered down with a full pantry, looking forward to our daughter’s five-night visit at Christmas. A pretty eight-foot fir sits in a bucket of water out back, ready to bring inside for decoration when Lillian arrives (after a COVID test).

The pandemic has made the family Christmas party a Zoom affair this year, and my treasured annual shopping outing with Lil to Seattle’s festive Pike Place Market is a no-go. But Barbara and I have good books to read, and the intrepid postman who comes by boat is delivering packages that we hide under the bed until Santa’s big day. A trek down the puddled gravel road to the mail shack is occasion for excitement.

Winter can be long on our little rock. But December is kind of special.

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