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Of Snowplows and Shopping

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From the Hawk's Nest

During our winter, which happened the third week of November this year, I spent several hours plowing snow off our road. I know many of our neighbors and some of my readers would be happy if that was the entirety of winter this year; at the risk of some wrath, I admit some more would be fine by me. However, I did read a comment by a meteorologist in Fairbanks who said, “Sometimes we go a whole winter season without reaching minus forty.” That may be a little extreme for me but I have never experienced forty below. I also wonder how they came up with the name Fairbanks.

After years of talking about it, we finally broke down and bought snow removal equipment. In the past our wonderful friends and neighbors helped us out with the road and we helped them with their fuel expenses. 

I have done a lot plowing at different places I have lived, but never here. It was, nearly always, on a tractor with buckets or blades but for here, we felt a four-wheeler with a plow was perfect. I like the maneuverability and the quickness it offers. I hope to use it more this year; in truth, I think it is fun.

Still, when I am spending time plowing back and forth on the same, three-quarter-mile stretch, one thing is always the same—there is plenty of time to think. That doesn’t mean I’m bored—I enjoy the opportunity to be out in winter—but it does not take all my consciousness to do the job. 

I’m sure you want to know what I was thinking about. What wonderful words of wisdom am I channeling from the falling snow? One brilliant inspiration that came through the slight, stimulating sting of snow on my face; I need a windshield. 

In addition and since I was in the snow and it was November, thoughts of the Christmas holidays started to waft along between the trees as I created berms of white powder under the snow-loaded branches of pines along our lane.

It looks to be a quiet Christmas at the Hawk’s Nest this year. The kids and family are in Virginia and none of us has the time to travel across the continent to see the other. 

I think of the song “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go.” That’s where I live. Linda and I became grandparents last December so our home in the woods fits the song. I must admit, since no children or grandchildren will be here it is a rather sad song this year; however, there will be Christmases to share with them in the future. We will miss all our relatives but we will choose to find peace and joy in this holiday season, and all year, for ourselves and with our friends.

As the plow slides snow sideways my attention focuses on the holiday giving. Don’t worry, there is very little traffic on our road this time of year, so I could allow my thoughts to wander a bit.

I have received a couple emails and seen several posts on Facebook about shopping local. I like the idea. 

About ten years ago I did story on local musicians and their CDs; that was then, but now there are even more singers and songwriters in our area representing every genre. I bet you know several who have albums for sale. Purchasing their music gives you great gifts to share while keeping money in our community

I have also done stories this time of year about regional visual artists who have material available for sale. Give a one-of-a-kind piece of art this year. They are exclusive and exceptional while at the same time beautiful. 

While shopping, don’t forget my friends who have books on the market. They are all good reads. These artists have creative and unique gifts for those on your list. Chances are the gifts created here will not be duplicated when sent to Seattle, Virginia, or around the world. 

For those near home, consider all of the above, as well as gift cards for goods and services that are just down the street. Consider a restaurant, pub, gallery or studio that would be fun for a friend. Then there are massages, an oil change, or a haircut. There are several shops and boutiques in our area owned and operated by our neighbors.

Maybe you have someone on your list who has everything, is hard to shop for, or says they don’t really need anything. How about a donation to a nonprofit or charity in their name? It is unexpected and personal. Several years ago, my brother and his wife started doing all their Christmas giving that way. It is fun getting a surprise thank you note from an organization I would support anyway. 

Another way to share the Christmas spirit is with a homemade gift certificate. It can be a promise to help someone, possibly some housework or shoveling or lawn care next summer. It could be a pledge to read to someone who has trouble seeing, or baby sit to give some parents a night out. The possibilities are endless—get creative and let love be your guide. 

So while doing your Christmas shopping look around, I bet your imagination and creativity will come up with several ideas, then think about how you are supporting your local communities’ economies with each purchase. 

From the Hawk’s Nest the wish list is simple—peace to you all even when it looks like you are in the middle of chaos and conflict. Oh, and a little more winter. 

Don’t worry about me though, unless you want to give to a charity or nonprofit. I have already bought a windshield.

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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, shopping, buy local, The Hawk's Nest

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