When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even

Madrona in the snow: Looking from Center Island toward Decatur Island during my morning walk.

OH, WE’RE HAVIN’ A HEAT WAVE, a tropical heat wave… Well, it got up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit today on Center Island. After a couple of days this week when the red stuff in the outdoor thermometer didn’t budge above 15, that’s saying something. Not much, but something.

Christmas arrived in the San Juans along with a blast of Siberian cold, snow and wind that hasn’t quite ended.

With all that in the forecast last week, daughter Lillian and I canceled our long-planned Christmas rendezvous with friends at the Washington coast. Instead, Lil and her friend Bianca, a former college roommate with whom she remains close, joined me at the Nuthatch for a quiet and cozy celebration with plenty of good food, mulled wine, games, puzzles and favorite old movies. We went caroling at the island farm (“Good King Wenceslas” was our forte) and had a snowball fight on the airfield.

Lillian, left, and friend Bianca on a snowy Feast of Stephen, also known as December 26.

We didn’t wake up to a white Christmas, but by evening the flakes were falling fast, allowing us to enjoy the magic of dimming lights inside the cabin and turning on outside lights above the front wall of windows to experience a mesmerizing eyeful of what I call “Snow Theater.”

Thoughtful friends and family remembered me with many cards and gifts. It was a good Christmas, but as many surmised, it wasn’t easy without my sweet wife and Lillian’s dear mum. Christmas was Barbara’s favorite time of year. We did our best to honor the standard she set and replicate the joy she brought to it. Of course it wasn’t the same, but it was the best way to show our love.

Tracks in the snow told who’d been there before me, whether two-legged or four.

Monday I braved snowy highways to return Lillian and Bianca to Seattle. I returned via water taxi to my island on Tuesday to learn that many neighbors had frozen pipes. (Mine are OK.)

This morning dawned quiet and sunny. Winds were light, the air remained frigid and the snow wasn’t melting. A perfect morning to bundle up for an invigorating tramp around the island with my camera. It was fun to try to read prints in the snow. Was that a deer crossing the road? A fox treading the path behind my knoll?

The continuing cold has helped quash a planned visit by friends for the New Year’s holiday. So Galley Cat and I will be partying alone as we welcome 2022. For me, the year to come holds the adventure of a 10-week voyage with some other chums on a 37-foot powerboat up the Inside Passage to Alaska, and the hope that we might all be able to resume safe travels to faraway places, one of my joys in life. For Galley, there’s probably hope for more runs up the knoll. Maybe better-quality kitty tuna. Her needs are simple. I think we can work on that.

Whatever your wishes, here’s hoping.