Here’s a little story set at the Falls of the Ohio State Park in Clarksville, Indiana that will help carry us into the new year. This tale is from a few weeks back, but I have been saving it. I have, however, been using many of the images I created on this day for use with my Christmas cards. Making ornaments, setting up holiday lights, and coming up with a new batch of cards to give away are my ways of getting into the spirit of the season. I also enjoy attempting to put into words something about my Falls experiences and the following is this year’s gift from the river. Today, we are in the western section of the park. I know of four special trees with exposed roots (three sycamores and one cottonwood) that hang out together and have survived a very tough year and were due a visit from me. With the daylight fading, this would be a good place to watch the sun set as the Ohio River turns left on its journey westward.
Getting into the right spirit of the season can be difficult for some folks. Especially, when the weather is abnormally warm and you were hoping for snow to get winter kick started in the right direction. The Falls of the Ohio, like much of the eastern portion of our country, is currently in the grips of El Nino. Our area has set several all-time records for heat for this time of year. What a contrast from last year’s polar vortex! As luck would have it, the Styro-Snowman happened to be around when I was visiting the river. I stuck around to see what would happen next.
Although this snowman wore a fixed expression, his odd movements communicated befuddlement? Something was missing or just not right. I could see him looking around for something…perhaps a reminder of the season, but nothing appeared obvious? After roaming the fossil cliffs for several minutes he stopped and looked towards the sky. That’s when an amazing thing happened and if I didn’t have these pictures to prove it…I am sure you would not believe me. As the sun, our star, was setting…another star much smaller and shaped like a snowflake descended from the sky. I wondered if my friend here had willed it to him or did the star appear spontaneously? As the star drifted by the Styro-being reached up and gently brought the star down to earth. I could sense a feeling of joy coming over the snowman.
Along with the snowflake star…a small white sack appeared on the ground. Inside the sack were five, slightly beat up plastic tree ornaments like the kind you can sometimes find at the Falls after the flooding has subsided. The snowman looked into the sack a pulled out a roughed up, but still functional, deep red ornament. His expression widened and I almost felt like I was reading his mind. The snowman walked over to one of the four trees with the great roots and began decorating its branches.
The first tree the snowman embellished had a more open arrangement with ornaments hung on several branches. For whatever reason, the snowman didn’t find this to be satisfactory and he took his five ornaments off and moved to another nearby tree.
On a low hanging limb of another rugged sycamore, the snowman hung up his ornaments with care. He saved his bright red bauble for last and placed it upon the branch which was accomplished precariously by standing on a large tree root. The snowman looked content when he was finished and paused a moment or two to soak up his handiwork.
Oddly, the snowman had hung up his ornaments in a straight line that ascended the tree branch. Wordlessly, I could tell that he was moved by this alignment, but why? The tree, after all, could have been decorated any number of ways. Something about this configuration made me think of celestial models and how we rank planets based by size or their proximity to the sun. The now extraordinary branch seemingly had this cosmic link going for it. The snowman stood behind his decorations and peered up the line which seemed to be sighted to a particular spot in the night sky that seemed a little darker than the surrounding space.
Without saying a single word, the Styro-Snowman elevated the star that had come to him from high above. He had borrowed some of its magic and now it was his time to pass it on. It floated off until it reached that now dark spot in the firmament that it normally occupied. A bright flash of light signaled that the snow star was back in position. It is said that all life contains a little star power within it and I think I just witnessed that in action. With his spirit lifted, the snowman looked over his shoulders at me and with his fixed acorn smile disappeared into the river.
I dedicate this little story to all who seek some personal connection to the spirit of the season or who simply are following magic stars of their own. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season’s Greetings from the Falls of the Ohio.