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The Hawk's Nest

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First Christmas in the cabin

I just came in from a walk in our woods for the first time in snow this year. It’s only about an inch but still, it is snow. I thought about doing a test drive with my new snowshoes but decided against it. I really don’t like to clean the dirt off when I come back.

The fresh white blanket brings that serene, sweet silence that makes time feel as if it is standing still. My walk almost felt like as if it were a meditation. With snow on the branches, each step of each familiar trail looked like a new and different quest to be experienced.

The recent cover also improves my tracking skills tremendously. I followed a snowshoe hare for a while. I rarely see those furry little creatures but his tracks were everywhere. I saw deer and elk tracks; a raccoon had crossed the trail near the edge of the property; and of course squirrels had scampered back and forth between trees. I complimented myself for being such a good tracker, even if it only happens in fresh snow or loose dirt.

Back at the house I grabbed a piece of firewood from the porch, took it in and stoked the fire. It’s warm inside with a Christmas scene out each window.

I’m getting into the spirit of the season. Not to be confused with getting the spirits of the season in me; that’s another story.

When it comes to this wonderful winter holiday I admit to being a hopeless romantic. As an adult I’ve lived in tract houses, old homes on old city streets, condos and even a boat for a few years. But a log cabin in the woods has always seemed like the ideal Yule-time home.

As a young adult it seemed absurd to take the time to decorate a place that only I would see. But as I matured—a relative term—I found it did make the season more fun and it forced me to do a little cleaning… when I put everything away sometime in the spring.

My four winters on that old wooden boat allowed for the most unique holiday decorating. Lights completely outlined all of her lines. A tree stood in the cockpit and at the helm was Santa Clause with a captain’s hat setting jauntily on his head.

People could see the lights from all around the bay and came by to see what they were. To complete the holiday season on the docks for them, I made sure there was music of the season on the CD player all the time. This meant, in order keep my sanity— a relative term—I had to buy several CDs of holiday music in different styles.

Then, there were a few years in a wonderful cabin that was off the grid. This required decorating without electricity. I wasn’t willing to let the batteries discharge into the colored lights, so I painted pinecones different colors for the tree and used candles and oil lamps around the rest of the interior.

I mentioned once before that it was during this time that Linda found a perfect little cabin in the woods to live in and I came with the cabin.

That cabin was way too small for two people, two dogs, and whatever other animals we thought needed a place to stay for a while, so we started on a new adventure.

Our past two years were spent in anticipation of our charming, forest-surrounded log home. While enjoying this anticipation we lived in the shop. It wasn’t so bad for me; after all, it was a shop. Linda, on the other hand, may have a different story. Most of the tools were in the house we were building so there was room for the most necessary furniture: a table, two chairs and a bed. One might notice only MOST of the tools were in the house, while many were still in the shop where we lived.

This year we are in that log home. I was right. It really is a perfect Christmas home, to say nothing of the rest of the year. We have already started hanging lights outside. Some of our Santa Clause collection has already found places to spend the next few weeks and waiting outside is a 14-foot Douglas fir. We both have always wanted a big tree in the house and now there is room for one. We’ve started adding to our light supply and are wondering if our decorating supplies, along with my late mother’s ornaments, will be enough adornment for our plan.

In addition to the tree, we have a second floor that will need to be decorated. It is open to the first floor in the living room and thus can be seen from below. We are thinking about a small tree up there and maybe a little one in the dining room as well. I don’t think we have any plans to do up the laundry room for the festivities, but Linda may have ideas she hasn’t yet shared with me.

The house isn’t totally finished yet so there will be room to grow our merry plans. And in the future there will be a gate with posts that will need some cheer.

Okay, I’m starting to sound like I could brown-out Bonner County with my display. Really, I just want to decorate our new home in a fun and tasteful way. Maybe I just want to live in a Thomas Kincaid painting for a few weeks each year.

There will be more to our Christmas than lights and Santa Clause. This will be our first Christmas in this house, our first without kids at home, and our first without my mother. But then, what is Christmas if it’s not about new beginnings?

We hope your holidays are as merry as our home.

See you all next year after I’ve put a few miles on those new snowshoes.

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Author info

Ernie Hawks Ernie Hawks is a former theater director who has branched into the creative fields of writing and photography. He lives in a cabin in Athol with his lovely wife Linda, and feeds the birds in his spare time.

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Christmas, snowshoes

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