Saturday, December 21, 2013

Solstice Celebrations

Coming home from work on Tuesday I was driving a bit faster than road conditions permitted, and put my little car in the ditch.  It offered cause for celebration.  During the event I was certain the little thing was going to roll over - but it didn't.  In fact, there was no damage to either the car or the driver.  Now that is cause for celebration.

On Wednesday Trish and I took the truck and trailer to town to pick up an order of dog-food.  A ton of dog food is a good load on our trailer, but we got it home without mishap, along with a good stock of groceries that should be sufficient to get is by for a good long time.  That is cause for celebration.

1 ton (50 bags) of dog food loaded on the trailer - let's celebrate.
Thursday was "chain saw" day.  The recent ice storm that cut power out here at the house has weighed down the trees immensely.  Many were overhanging our driveway, some had fallen across our training trails, two blocked access to our compost pile where the copious amounts of dog poop shoveled from our kennel twice each day is allowed to mellow and decompose, and a couple threatened to topple onto pens, potentially releasing the inmates for an unsupervised game of "run amok".  The saw started, ran and cut perfectly.  Heck, even the snow machine, once dug out and most of the ice chipped away, started and ran perfectly so I could scout and open up the trails.  All of those are cause for celebration.

Yesterday I finally got a chance to run some dogs.  A neighbor of ours operates Just Short of Magic Sled Dogs, and has hired the Stardancers to help out with some of her tours during this busy season.  I trucked a team over to her place yesterday to learn her trails and routes.  We had a great day running through the woods, and here feeder trail, between her yard and the main winter trail, truly is magical.  Here's a 3 minute video showing the run through her "Narnia Forest".

 As you can see in the video, it isn't very bright out.  Today, the Winter Solstice, is the shortest day of the year, providing us with only 3 hours and 43 minutes of possible direct sunlight.  The forecast is for overcast skies with light snow falling, so we won't see much of that light.  Nonetheless, tomorrow we will gain 14 seconds more light, and each day we will get more and more.  That is cause for celebration.

In nearly every culture, the season surrounding the winter solstice offers causes for celebration.  It doesn't matter which holiday you choose to celebrate, be it the Solstice, Chanakuh, Christmas, Kwanzaa or another.  What matters is that we recognize that in our lives were are given many causes to celebrate, and should enjoy each of them to the fullest.

Today I'll celebrate the Winter Solstice as volunteer Race Marshal for the Two Rivers Dog Mushers Association's Solstice 50 and Solstice 100 mile sled dog races.  I consider being asked to do this as a considerable honor - I'm not a racer, just a major fan of the sport.  My form of dog mushing is casually traveling through the woods, not pitting my team against the prowess of others. Many of the racers in this years Solstice have VASTLY more experience than I, including the five Yukon Quest champions signed up to race in our event. 

Stuff happens out on the trail, and when stuff happens it is my role as marshal to sort it out, interpret the rules, and do what can be done to make things right.  As I sit here drinking my morning coffee and catching up on the events of the world it seems a weighty responsibility. 

Even with the weight of that responsibility, I will be watching some of the finest dog mushers on earth as they go about their business.  I'll be seeing what they carry on the trail, how they use it, and I'll be interacting with some of the finest working dogs on this planet.  Now THAT is cause for celebration.

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