Unless you happen to celebrate Christmas according to the Eastern Orthodox calendar, the winter holidays are in the rearview mirror until Valentine’s Day. Now what?

Well, when this edition of The L-V goes to press, we will be celebrating my mom’s 87th birthday on Jan. 3.

Hi, Mom. Now everybody knows your secret.

I had to brush up on my knowledge of state winter hunting regulations because, well, they don’t catch and hold my attention. My idea of roughing it these days is tramping around on snow-covered streets after dark.

Squirrels are in season, but I think you have to be a good and dedicated hunter to bag these critters. I’ve seen them in action. They tend to be the smartest guys in the forest.

If you’re a bow hunter or muzzleloader, you still have a couple of weeks to bag a deer. That’s pretty much it for larger game, but there’s always an opportunity to take a potshot at a coyote.

I think that porcupines are still in season until sometime in March, but there are things that still live in my head from the time I was a young schoolchild.

”Never kill a porcupine. You can always hit one on the head and eat it if you run out of food if you’re lost in the woods.”

Uh, thanks, but I’ll take my chances on going hungry first. Avoiding those quills while preparing it for roasting seems more trouble than it is worth. And since decorating clothing with porcupine quills went out of fashion some 200 years ago, it seems a little wasteful and un-green to hunt the quilly beasts.

On the other hand, I remember the historical society’s visit to Curtin Village a couple of years ago. In one former worker’s cabin stood a gnawed-up table. According to our guide, porcupines are known to burglarize unoccupied cabins in the winter time so that they can snack on salty table legs.

If that is true, I can see why people want to shoot them, particularly the wives of nimrods and owners of woodland cafes.

”I thought this was supposed to be a nice place. If only they could keep the porcupines off the tables ... .”

It is thoughts such as the last one that always pop into my head at the worst possible time, usually while sitting in a silent waiting room at a doctor’s office. The thought isn’t the problem. It’s the stifled giggle afterward, which can be passed off as an allergic sneeze under the right circumstances.

Usually, though, my thoughts don’t turn to porcupines, or even the Super Bowl, in the wintertime. That’s nigh unto declaring yourself a foreign agent of some kind, but after living in the Penn State area for a good portion of my adult life, football lost its luster.

Wassailing never really caught on around here, so I don’t miss having a gang of people I barely know knocking on my door, barging in, drinking from a punchbowl and then leaving. Today, we would call that a home invasion. Once upon a time, it was entertainment.

False and fashionable grumpiness aside, I find myself enjoying the weeks after Christmas. Night falls too early, at least for another couple of months, and this winter promises to be a cold one. There’s nothing quite like watching a movie, a cup of tea on the table and a knitting project in my hands.

I can’t blame this mindset on advanced middle age. I think I was born this way or I inherited caveman genes. Either one is fine with me.

At our house back in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, we all went through a jigsaw puzzle phase in the depths of winter. This began between Christmas and New Year and continued until early spring, barring that tragic week known as “inventory” at GC Murphy’s.

Of course, you could always find some good sales during those seven days. Fabric seemed to be a favorite for a lot of us, and we stocked up. In February, Mom’s sewing machine was always in motion once the sun went down.

There was always a lot of baking going on in the depths of winter, too. Pies, cakes, cinnamon rolls, bread and buns provided a two-fer of extra warmth from the stove and a treat.

Baking is a productive way to while away a winter’s day, but I’m giving it a pass this year. If I bake it, I will eat it. This is no way to shed those extra pounds I’ve picked up these past five years.

Of course, the seed catalogues have started arriving in the mail. I feel slimmer and healthier flipping through one even if I never order a single pack of seeds. But I always do.

It’s probably just my imagination or wishful thinking, but the days seem to be getting longer already. The winter solstice was only a couple of weeks ago, but there is a single beam of sunlight streaming through my kitchen window right now.

I need to hurry up and complete all these winter projects.

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