night divine

night divine

windowstonight i drove to zumbro falls, a small bucolic town, population 307, that’s about 35 miles from st. charles, to visit a coworker of mine who was participating in a craft sale. i left at 6:30, after the sun had made its early wintertime descent into the western sky. i drove northwardly cross country, hitching rides on county-road blacktop.
one thing i noticed immediately when we moved from austin to new london was the farms were far and few between in west-central minnesota, while farmhouses popped up all over the south end of the state, like mushrooms after a rainy day. after moving back, i was comforted by the plethora of farms, and as it turns out, christmastime is when they shine.
many of the farmhouses were strung with copious lights, the yards populated with reindeer, santas, snowmen, and candy canes. tonight was a little hazy, and the moon shone muted, yellow in the sky, just enough to bring a white sheen to the ground where the few inches of snow we got lay.
as my tires hummed over the asphalt, bringing me to farm after farm, i was suddenly struck with a homesickness for the drive between new london and the st. cloud area. after spending christmas with my family – food prep, o holy night, buffet, stockings, presents, bad movies – i would drive home on highway 23, then veer off on county road 2 in cold spring, and slide through garrison keillor’s lake woe-be-gone backyard. a couple miles before trundling under interstate 94, there was a home that had done its lights right: the massive tree in the front yard was strung in vertical white lights from top to bottom. you could see it coming a mile down the road, and i looked forward to seeing it every year.
i won’t be seeing my lake woe-be-gone tree anymore, and there are some definite wild cards to this christmas (like…will the new church choir sing “o holy night”?). but the basics will still be the same – family and fun and snow and cheer. i know i’ve said in the past that home really is where your family is – it’s not about the place or the atmosphere. but it sure is hard to remember that sometimes.

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