Peppermint Kisses & Red-Tailed Hawks: So This is Christmas

peppermint bowls

coop field

Mr. Big (as in Huge) red-tailed hawk helped himself to a hen yesterday. He has been circling for days, gliding from one pine-tree top to the next, always with an eye down, looking for his opening. The smart and fast hens head for their coops or hide under a canopy of tree branches when they hear his eerie screech or see him on the move. But there’s always one….

Hawks are part of the winter landscape that I love so much, and I can’t begrudge them the hunt. After all, the rabbits and voles and mice that hawks usually dine on have all gone into hiding. (The mice into our house of course—mice being a wee bit more resourceful than chickens, in my opinion.)

tree ornament tree fence








Stepping outside these days is such a contrast to the warm sparkly cookie baking/tree decorating/present wrapping vibe we’ve got going inside: The light covering of snow on the spent cornfield, the faintly luminous grey noontime sky, the theater of gnarled and twisted bare-limbed trees in the uber-still air. And that gulp of cold air that catches your breath, the chill that makes you curl your fingers into a fist inside your gloves. Startling.

corn field

I love going outside. And then I love coming back in.

Even though, no matter how much we try to seal all the drafts in this creaky-leaky old farm house, it is still on the chilly side.

lib tree dad tree dad lib



And our Christmas tree brings new meaning to the whole Charlie Brown thing. After traipsing around out back for far too long on the coldest day last weekend, we finally settled on something we thought would work–with the bare back half to the wall! Roy cut it down, dragged it in, and we had a good laugh.

mouse fox doggie charlie


pea pod aliceFortunately, now that I’ve fortified it with my ornament collection and lots of tinsel, it doesn’t look half bad. I just try not to look up when thumbing through Martha Stewart Living. But every Christmas tree is beautiful at night, isn’t it? Especially when you turn all the other lights out in the living room and gaze, mesmerized, at the twinkle show that remains.

sugar starkiss final


Now, so far we have eaten every single Christmas cookie we’ve made. Dad ate the beautiful sugar cookies Libby decorated as fast as I could bake them. So much for gift giving (more batches to come.) Yesterday, I played around with egg whites and a pastry bag (big fun) and made peppermint meringue kisses, a recipe by my fabulous baker friend Abby Dodge. I got the recipe out of one of Fine Cooking’s special cookie collections, but it’s on the web, too. I’ve never been a great egg-white-whipper and I think I could have gone a little further with these, but I’m jazzed to make them again. (I tried chopping and smashing peppermint candies a few different ways, too, and that was a hoot.)

In case you can’t tell, I love Christmas. And cold days that make baking, well, essential to one’s well-being. And I also love these precious limbo days at the close of the year. Serious work goes on hold; afterall, there’s a whole new year coming for that.

kiss tissue 2




4 thoughts on “Peppermint Kisses & Red-Tailed Hawks: So This is Christmas”

  1. Make sure Cocoa the bunny is safely tucked away from the red-tailed hawks … I hate to think of bunnies and chickens falling prey to the hawks, but alas, that is nature. I can envision your twinkling tree when you turn off the lights at night (or I should say at 4 pm in the afternoon!). Thanks for this beautiful description of the holidays …..

  2. I am a hawk watcher too. And yes, they deserve their prey. “Nature is red in tooth and claw,” said somebody.

    Best line: Every Christmas tree looks good at night.


  3. Liz, alas Cocoa bunny went to bunny heaven a while back (natural causes…she had a heart attack!)…her photo is in Fresh from the Farm though so she will be immortalized. Sending you a note later tonight!

    David, wish I could be at a St. Luke’s service for Christmas. Will forever be in my heart as a safe place when I was quite adrift! Merry Merry to you and Pam (and I already know you are looking at the lights in the dark!)

    Kathy–you would love those peppermint kisses!! Merry Christmas to you!

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