Our friends Jean and Joel, two Philadelphia-suburb expats now exiled to St. Paul, Minnesota, came to visit on Christmas Eve, as they do nearly every year. They still have lots of friends and family in southeastern Pennsylvania, so it's not just us they're in town to see. Nevertheless, if the weather's nice and the trail conditions appropriate, we try to take long walk with them and to catch up on a year's news.
We decided to walk in the county park where a two-mile rails-to-trails project had been completed 1-1/2 years ago. A portion of the trail runs alongside Harper's Run, one of my favorite photographic subjects. Because of the persistent cold weather, rocky parts of the shallow stream had iced-up.
After we bid our friends adieu in mid-afternoon, we returned to the house, where I spent the rest of the daylight hours grading final exams from the graduate course I had just finished teaching. Those exams, while generally good, certainly did not put me in a Christmas mood (which was already at low ebb, anyway, thank you very much Mr. Grinch). However, as the sun set, we got ourselves ready to attend the annual Christmas Eve gala organized by one of our neighbors--a couple so preternaturally gregarious, generous, and welcoming and that you'd almost claim they'd been raised in Stepford. Great food in prodigious quantities, a beautifully decorated house jammed with interesting people, and 56 varieties of red wine. I challenge you not to have a good time!