A friend of Tal’s asked how we would be spending the holidays OFF GRID. Certainly, it’s not the norm, but I assure you it was very special and we were very appreciative of the nature surrounding us. For me it started with spotting an Ocelot that must have weighed a good forty pounds.
We were parked by the Colorado River on a sandy and tree lined pull out. I stepped out of the trailer into soft sand and the large cat didn’t hear me turn the corner. I was stopped in my tracks. It was facing away from me and casually walking along the tree line before following a trail down to the water. Wow! I quickly climbed back into the trailer for my camera, but of course by the time I returned it was long gone, or well-hidden in a thick tree top.
We couldn’t let Itchykaibo out for as soon as we did he ran for the cat’s scent and quickly started to follow. Our cat is just about the right size for a meal for the Ocelot. We had to protect our cat from himself. Normally, he stays close by, but the large cat’s scent was a draw he couldn’t resist. After several tries at letting him out and chasing him down, Tal put up the netted fencing he uses to keep our cat in the trailer.
Of course, I was on a daily vigil watching for the slinky and distinctly marked cat to reappear, but to no avail. I had never heard of an Ocelot and in describing it, someone knew what it was and sent me a wikipedia link. Ocelot sightings are actually very rare in these parts. I took it as a good omen, and another National Geographic moment while in the wilderness with Tal.
It was Thanksgiving weekend and the ATVs converged on this section of the desert like a hive of bees. They swarmed over the landscape with their campers, tents, and ceaseless hum of the All-Terrain Vehicles they used to turn the packed sand into deep powder that no one could drive on afterwards. The field where we had parked for three years and held the fire-pit I worked on for two of those years was left askew, and there was no way we were able to park in there after the ATVs worked their havoc.
I’m all for everyone having fun and spending their time outdoors, but some courtesy would have been appreciated. Instead of slowing down when they past, they kept their speed and dusted everyone’s camp with sand. When they left there was nary a patch of land that escaped the tire tracks left by the grownups’ toys. We thought about posting some 5 mph signs next to the stretch of road where the campers where, but were doubtful it would do any good.
Still, despite the noise and spraying of sand, we carried on with our holiday agenda, and I worked at cooking up a storm. Since we don’t have a refrigerator and are quasi vegetarians anyway, meat was not on the menu. Instead, I made one of our favorites, an Enchilada Casserole. I also made cranberry sauce and a crust-less pumpkin pie. Though pie crust would be preferable, I thought the baking time might be longer. Living Off Grid we are mindful of fuel usage.
Like everyone on Thanksgiving Day we ate too much and had to take a nap to sleep off our bulging bellies. We ended the day by sitting outside until the sun went down, basking in every last minute of the precious daylight that we could. The fall colors out here are amazing this year.
When the campers left, the incessant noise of the ATVs stopped, and peace reigned once again. The ting of their motors reminded me of Bike Week in Daytona Beach, Florida, where the hum of motorcycles could be heard around the clock for a whole week. The four day weekend produced a similar effect, although to a lesser degree.
Fortunately, I sent off my Christmas gifts to my grandchildren early, so I had my shopping done before the holidays started. My mother passed away December 8th and we had to make a quick trip to California.
That left Christmas a bittersweet time. I have many good memories of Christmas as a child, and my mother went all out with ribbon candy, nuts to crack, and homemade fruitcake she soaked in so much rum it could make you drunk. She decorated to a fault, but let my sister and me decorate the lower part of the tree while she tinseled the top. I’m glad she passed in December as it was my favorite time of the year with her. During future Christmases, my memories of her will only be that much dearer.
Christmas day came and we were still by the Colorado River. There were only two other campers out here, and they were quite a ways down the road. The ATVers decided to stay home, and we were happy about that. Now, please don’t think I’m ragging on having an ATV. We would like to have one ourselves. Only some of the ATVers didn’t slow down. Possibly as many as one out of ten did. I know how excited I was as a kid and raring to go when on vacation. To flip the coin, they probably think we are old fuddy duddies as we walk around with walking sticks.
In the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, I crept down the hall and played Santa’s helper, leaving a stocking gift and a DVD movie out for each of us.
Christmas morning, Tal and I wrote each other a Christmas card. The rules were that you had to write at least a few sentences, and you could use quotes, songs, and such for inspiration. We talked about what we would personally like in a card such as humor or romance – something sexy. Tal delighted in teasing me about what he would write. We laughed and enjoyed the exercise and I think it was the start of a good tradition.
I cooked, but not quite as much as during Thanksgiving. It was chilly out and we spent most of the day by the woodstove. We watched picture slideshows dashed with emotional reminiscing, and joyful memories. After a few family phone calls, we went for a lovely walk along the river and made the most of the afternoon sunshine.
My son sent a huge box of goodies from Italy, so we had plenty of Panettone Bread, cookies, pasta and sauces to enjoy during New Year’s Day. Even though we had intended to party the evening of New Year’s Eve we were content to go to bed only slightly later than usual. We watched a movie and called it a night. For us there is nothing better than being snuggled together in a flannel-sheeted bed. That was how we ushered in the new year – cozy and warm while we spooned.
*Photo of Ocelot purchased from Pond5.com (Normally I only use our photos, but this time was the exception.)