The day before Christmas

I don’t know how it is for you folks, but here in Mount Tremper it’s going to be a white Christmas after all! At least for part of the day. There’s a couple of inches of snow on the ground, but that’s enough for a noisy Town of Shandaken truck with a snow plow to be pushing it around. The familiar sound of the noisy truck laboring back and forth a couple of times means winter’s officially here.

It’s supposed to rain tomorrow.

Today’s emails include a note from a city-slicker p.r. firm containing safety tips brought to you by a friendly car-rental company. It’s telling me how I should stay safe now that the days are getting shorter. Silly me. I’ve just celebrated the winter solstice thinking that the day with the shortest daylight had already passed. The thought that each day’s light is going to be a couple of minutes longer than the previous day’s light has always for me been one of the comforts of the country winter.

I also read an email this Christmas Eve telling me that 18 “financially challenged” small businesses in Ulster County have been awarded a combined $542,983, each business getting  from $10,600 to $35,000. An application to the state by county government was successful.

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I scan the entire list, which is in alphabetical order, looking for worthy places I already know: Alleyway Ice Cream in Saugerties, Black Eyed Susie’s Upstate in Saugerties, Bodies by Colotti in the Town of Ulster, Bondar Built in Kingston, bryt life foods in Kerhonkson, Chicory Naturalist in Port Ewen, Church des Artistes in Kingston, Dimples in Kingston, Edenesque in Kingston, Erichsen’s Fuel Service in Highland, EscapeMaker.com in Saugerties, Loveleaf Cleaning in Lake Katrine, Prescriptive Health in Kerhonkson, Stone Soup in Kingston, Twin Ravens in Ellenville, Urban Fork in Kingston, Wholesale in a Box in Kingston, and Woodland Playhouse in Phoenicia.

The looming crisis caused by the rapid increase in Omicron cases casts a huge shadow over the season. The New York Times today reported 168,135 new cases of Covid 19 in the country on December 22, higher than the peak day of the Delta surge, when there were 164,436 new cases. There’s little question that the new variant will soon eclipse the 281,232 recorded in the winter peak early this year.

Ulster County continues to fare slightly better than the counties to its south, with an average of 102 cases a day, or 58 per hundred thousand of population. That number will be increasing rapidly, alas. The next six weeks or so are going to be hell. Get your vaccination or booster shot, get tested when you feel you should, and hope the Pfizer pills that reduce the impact of the virus are available if and when you contract it.

Finally, a tip of the hat to the late Joan Didion, who died yesterday. In brilliant, economical prose, she did more to explain to us Easterners what California is all about than any other person.

Should I go see Santa’s arrival at Woodstock’s village green tonight?