Winter has hit Montana with a vengeance. It is cold here … really cold. There’s a patch of ice on a bush outside my living room window that’s been about the same size for about four days now. Every morning hoarfrost limes the bushes and lower tree branches across the river, creating a cold winter landscape. The deer who wander through the yard are looking for any food they can find.
It could be bleak. And sometimes it feels that way. But it is also beautiful when the sun reflects off the ice, making it glisten against the few inches of snow on the ground.
It’s the season when nature does a last bunch of gathering before winter forces them to rest, spending what little energy they have to get enough food to sustain themselves. For humans, once the craziness of the holiday season passes, it can be a time of reflection, as we, in the northern hemisphere at least, wait for our southernmost friends to return the daylight.
In the meantime, we fill the time with stories. Christmas stories often involve snow and sleigh bells, a gift from our Victorian relatives who elevated Christmas from its humble story to a time of traditions that have stuck with us for over a century. The echos of winter solstice and the Roman holiday of Saturnalia surround the candles, Yule log, and other Christmas practices.
Palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights? Although I lived in California for a while, I was never a big fan. Neither is Sue Anne Devereaux, the heroine in my latest book, Sweet Montana Christmas. Maybe snow is a requirement for Christmas romance.
“It’s really wonderful to be here where there’s real seasons,” Sue Anne said. “Every year, my dad and I would watch White Christmas. A Christmas without snow is so-o-o depressing. Red and green don’t look right.”
“Not a big fan of lights on palm trees?” he asked.
“They’re fine for some people, but it doesn’t work for me.” She cocked her head. “It probably doesn’t work well for you, either, since you’re from Iowa. But if you got a job in one of those big California airports, you’d be stuck with it.”
“Maybe it’ll be Orlando. Mickey and I could become best buds.” Was she angling for a discussion about his future again? Maybe a conversation about Disney would divert her.
“Orlando is fun for a visit, but permanently?” She wrinkled her nose. “Not for me. Nope. Ever since I came to Montana to look at colleges, I’ve felt like I’ve come home. I don’t know what it is, but it feels like my roots were established here before I was born. It’s weird.”
“I can’t say I know what you mean.” A place had never grabbed hold of him, not in the way she was describing. He’d thought Denver would grow on him over time; he preferred the stark Rockies to the rolling hills of his home state. How would he feel about someplace like LA?
It didn’t matter. A job was a job.
He really wanted to get off this topic of conversation. Maybe he could distract her with something …
“How’s that Christmas list coming? I mean, if I’m going to find all the items, I’ll need some time.”
“I won’t make it too hard,” she said with a smile that slid into his psyche.
Enjoy the season! No matter where you live!