As I turn into the driveway, I go, "Oh shoot"! There are leaves piled up from raking that need to be bagged, like now! It is late in the evening, the air is chilly, but a girl has to do what she has to! As I set out bagging, DD being the sweetheart that she is, decides to help me, flashing light for my benefit, holding the bag wide open! The air is somewhat warm for this time of the year and, the hurried way we are bagging reminds me of our ancestors preparing for an impending storm, not simply sitting cozy in the house sipping coffee. Yes, the weather channel has mentioned a snow storm coming our way with rain, possibly icy and whatnot, not after these two lovely clear days. But if there is one, there is no way we leave the piles of leaves and allow the underlying grass to choke! Lesson learned after an experience or two. As we continue to bag, I see the full moon, yes, that very same "karthikai moon" or "beaver moon" named after the beavers who build their winter dams at this time of the year. The moon of course is getting enveloped by those clouds. Weather men are rarely right. If not a complete storm as expected, there are clouds setting in certainly. I am somewhat bummed that I cannot see the upcoming lunar eclipse in the early hours of next morning, because of the same storm that had me scurrying around to bag those leaves. I had made grand plans of going for an early morning walk, all the while eyes up toward the sky watching the eclipse. Now don't blame me for making those walking plans - after all, we were treated to clear skies. You need to see our winters to believe why I am so ra-ra over clear days. I have been excited since the day I had read about the visible planets in the night sky knowing well that there were a couple of clear days and, I have been coaxing my DH to set the telescope up. I can understand his hesitation with the cold and all but, I am no super gal to carry that thing out and spend time setting up. You know I am better at wearing mittens, a cap, jumping up and down in excitement, chatting away nonstop and, hold that hot chocolate for him to sip from time to time while he sets up the telescope! You understand the hesitation now, don't you? Other than the hot chocolate....well, anyway, he promises that he will set it up as soon as we come back from our walk with the dogs. I set out eagerly with him on that walk, all the while eyeing the sky and squealing with excitement every now and then at the lovely stars and planets so clearly visible, thinking of "The Little Prince" his rose, his adventure, smiling, and imaging my ancestors, loved ones smiling down on me, showering blessings! Why will not the sky look lovely? Tell me? Just as we take that turn, we hear our neighbor call out, "did you see that Jupiter and Saturn," and before I could answer, he invites us to take a look. Yes, he had set up his telescope and was enjoying the beautiful night sky. Can a gal get luckier than that? Those rings of Saturn, I tell you! The sheer magnitude of what one can see standing in one's own backyard! Imagine the joy when they first discovered those? How can mind not go back to generations before us who not only watched the skies but got us this technology to us and at hand? Basking in the beauty of that world out there is the least we can do. We continue taking turns at the telescope, talking, covering all the constellations that we can see, the planets, the beautiful moon, the craters, all as eager amateur astronomers! Now, do you understand why I feel like a hunter-gatherer as I bagged those leaves? I have had two full days of doing nothing but gaze at the skies and think of seasons. Did I say two full days of nothing? Well, not the entire truth. The two days before the two days of sky gazing, even as I had put up a string of lights, decked up the Christmas tree, listened to the radio playing Christmas music - all I could think of was the joy I felt in doing these simple decorations, the serenity in making one's surroundings pretty, not following any particular tradition, looking forward to sending some cards and receiving a few, exchange some cookies, thinking of all the friends I have made through the neighborhood cookie exchanges and more importantly being able to keep those decorations for some time - simply being part of the joy everyone is feeling at this time of the year. As we walk back in the crisp winter air, the smell of fire logs burning in fireplaces emanating all around, I enjoy the decorations of the neighborhood, some going all out, others doing what they do every year - hoping for peace and joy! Here's to peace and joy on earth ! PS: Even as I type this and look out the window, after that expected storm, I am enjoying the beauty of our first snow, the first snow that always makes you joyful, no matter the impending clean up and what not!