Sunday, December 17, 2023

Seasoned Greetings

 Once again, your reporter and Utah freshman Thomas Edison Schmitt joined our good friend Robert on the annual pilgrimage to  Mount Palomar, where we celebrate the Winter Solstice with mountain-top gunfire on opening day of the one-week season for the innocent  band tailed pigeon. Our cultish enthusiasm for this hunt is the invariable jumping off point for the year-end musings excreted by this publication, as we are too lazy and cheap to send out Holiday cards like thoughtful people do. 

We have become empty nesters (not counting the hounds), so Tommy was extracted from the airport  late Friday night, just in time to meet up with his buddy Jack Perez at our house at midnight before taking a quick nap prior to our 3:30 am departure.  The rigors of brother David's academic schedule back east kept him from joining in our mountainous reindeer games. 

We were on time and in place when the ridge-top and white dome of the observatory came into gradual focus as a tangerine glow crept upward to backlight them from the east.

The birds were elusive, but shots were attainable as we greeted the day and gave Tashtego something to mark and retrieve. He bounced around every time he heard distant gunfire and wanted so badly to give chase, but we avoided party fouls with other hunters. We kept him stealthy and close at hand for recovering the birds within our own fields of fire.

Tash rounded up the bounty of our flak; we all got off the mountain in good spirits; and we made it to the Palomar General store to grab ice by late morning.  For those of you who do not like semi-colons, get a colon flush, but don't expect me to be your doctor.

We decompressed at the Lake Henshaw Cafe for our traditional pagan Solstice wolf-down.  We made time for casual reflection on our good fortune with Robert, who teaches us something whenever we have adventures with him.

Then it was time for hard-nosing the highway in the Napmobile for great father-son conversation with my first-year college boy on the long trip back to civilization.

This year has been action packed for our descendants, especially the little boys. Their growth has done nothing to change their lack of seniority within our clan, but has allowed them access to their older siblings' clubhouse of adulthood.  Below is prom night at the Mission.

California State Championship swim finals brought another fun weekend as David successfully defended the state butterfly crown he has held for two years.  

The boys enjoyed playful goodbyes with their relay teammates after capping off a rewarding and ribbon-infested high school swimming experience. They came away with friendships that will stay with them after college scatters their ranks.

We got some big kids to come down for graduation as we closed the books on public school.

Summer brought the pursuit of aquatic prey and chances for good times, as Connor and David prowled the deck of the 3/4 day boat out of Dana on a trip spearheaded by Sarah Jane.

Your reporter teamed up with Secret Skipper to harvest tuna.

Piscatorial pursuits allowed us to continue our tradition of  forcing extended family and friends over for Neptunian guttony

and provide more opportunities to share times of abundance with the people we love.

Isaac  got his 100 ton Captain's license (it totally will not fit in his wallet); treated us to New England style culinary presentations of creatures we killed in California; 

and got engaged to Haley, so we are stoked.

Sarah and Connor stayed local and we got to hang out with them a lot.

Lizzy and boyfriend David were treated to some seagoing adventures with their nautical cousins Trevor and Diego on the Big Island, where they got to meet Trevor and Alex's new baby, Caspian.

Our generous friend Ernie let us stay at his fabulous place in Tahoe for an all-too-brief nuclear family get together, as sisters strolled; 

 Tommy went fishing minimalist-style in the mouth of Blackwood Creek;

and WendyJo side-eyed her children as part of the perils of family poker with Mom.

We got to spend more time with the Hounds of Love during breaks from their needy bark-a-thons, as other resident pack members have devolved into occasional visitors.

The world has not necessarily become a more wonderful place with respect to the fortunes of others this year as the dark days of winter grip our hemisphere. Peace seems out of reach for so many people with so little control over their circumstances.  Every ordinary day of American life is a Godsend of free will and luxury.

 Our family has been mostly favored by the Deity  as we process these final shortest days of the year and lean into the advance of increasing illumination in the rhythm of our lives.

Once again, it is time to listen for the refrain of those old-timey optimistic voices, as we feel our way past the forces of darkness and draw toward the light to come.

You're out of the woods.

You're out of the dark. 

You're out of the night.

Step into the sun.

Step into the light.

Happy Holidays to all who have dared to continue reading to this point.

 If you are religious like me, have a Savage Christmas, stay grateful and say a prayer to Saint Isadore of  Seville, the patron saint of punctuation. If you are without God -  Endeavor to persevere.

May all of us find a means to reflect in gratitude for a sultry dog day afternoon...,

as we remind ourselves, and those around us, that

These Are the Days.

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