It was a cold and windy night

Dec. 23, 2001

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It was a cold and windy night, just before sunset. Sam was being a handful as per usual and was working Rose’s last nerve.

“Take him out of the house,” she said. “Take him for a ride in the Jeep or something.”

Being that Rosemary wears the pants in the family, I hurried to get me and Sammy ready. But I didn’t want to go driving around in the Jeep, so I asked Sam if he’d want to go for a walk. He was up for it.

We got bundled up. The temperature was in the 20’s, but I try to follow the example of my brother-in-law, Mark, who lives up there in Minnesota. If it’s above zero, his kids are out playing in the snow.

I put Sam in the stroller, slapped a blankie on him and we were on our way … up the big hill towards the park.

Sammy was happy. He said, “Daddy, nook at all of the ‘no.”

I said, “Yep, look at all of the snow.”

“Hi, ‘no,” Sammy said, waving his blue-mittened paw at the newly fallen snowflakes.

We got up to the “T” in the road and had a decision to make … go straight and head right to the park, or turn and continue the walk. I turned. I didn’t really want to go to the park; it was cold and I didn’t want to run around chasing the boy … but Sam made a pretty good case for going to the park – he said, “Daddy, I want to go to the playground.” – and I relented.

Our neighborhood park is really cool because the view of the mountain range. The Continental Divide goes on and on until it disappears into the horizon at the edge of the world. From that little neighborhood park, you can follow the horizon from the mountains for about 180 degrees to the south and east; it’s quite a vantage point.

Sam jumped into the snow and was in heaven. He just liked stepping on it and picking it up. He went down a slide and there was nothing but snow and ice at the bottom. He liked that too. He ran over to the swings and gave out a call. He needed my help and I finally had to leave the park bench to provide it.

Sammy was in rare form on the swing. He was getting upset because he wanted to go higher. “Harder, Daddy, harder.” So I gave him a series of “underdogs” that left him flying towards the heavens.

It was a good time. I had spent the day shopping; the fresh air was doing me good.

After a bit of swinging, the sun began to set, turning the clouds above the entire mountain range a brilliant orange. I asked Sam, “Do you want to stay or should we go look at the orange sky.” He actually picked the orange sky.

Near the park, there is a trail that winds upward around the houses to an even better vantage point … unobstructed views of the mountains and the orange sky. In the summer, this is the place to go on July 4th; you can see fireworks from about five or six towns.

We took in the views and continued down the path. It was cold and now the sun was setting behind the Rockies. I asked Sam, “Should we go home or keep walking?” He said, “Keep walking.”

We crossed the street and were about to run down the hill, like we’ve done so many times before … but something caught my eye. Christmas lights! One of our neighbors does an amazing job with the decorations each year. They live up on a hill and decorate everything from their roof down to the street; it’s something to see. It looks like a massive spider web. In fact, the house was featured in the newspaper that day.

We’ve driven by and even stopped at that house many times, but we’ve never got really up close and personal, so Sammy and I took a detour and walked right up to the driveway. It wasn’t quite dark enough, but all of the lights were on and it was cool to see.

We were ready to leave … but something caught my eye. It was a deer. Sammy and I tried to get a closer look. We found a spot right across the street from the deer.

“Sammy, look!”

There wasn’t just one deer. There were four … five … wait, seven … eight deer!

There were eight deer, including one that had a set of antlers this big!

“Nook Dad! Nook at all the Rudolphs!

“Hi Rudolph!”

“I want to touch his nose.”

We watched Rudolph and all the other reindeer eat dinner for about 20 minutes. It was good and dark by then and the Christmas lights were bright and beautiful. The temperature was dipping and it was time to go home.

We had to hurry home and tell Mom, Carli and Gina that we had just been face-to-face with Santa’s reindeer. Santa must be in the neighborhood!

“Bye Rudolph.”

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