Annual “Countdown to Christmas” Zen Short stories

For seven plus years now. I put up new stories from the wild” kids” up here getting ready for the big morning. Christmas Eve, I’ll put up the Annual ” Night before Christmas on Zen Mountain.”

Hummie Holiday

Hummie and his clan are always a big part of what goes on up here on Zen Mountain. Every year, we have at least one hummingbird that weathers the storm to stay with us until it just gets too crazy. We have had up to half a dozen or more stay through until February, staying in the covered porch when the snows and freezing rain come through , then back out to their little homes up here around the homestead.

The rest of the clan heads down to Gotham where they have the Hummie Brownstone, or Humstone where the bulk of the family; Hummie, Mrs. Hum and all the humlings from sisters and brothers to grands and a few great grans spend the winter. There are always a few that sneak back up here on the bright and sunny chill days to visit Ma; my better half and I…and to get away from the Annual Winter reunion…..

Hummie……..Hummie!…….Hey! Hummie. Get out of your Lazyhum chair and help me decorate the Christmas Twig!” Mrs; Hum called as she tossed an ornament his way.

Hummie, sitting in his recliner, rolled his eyes, pointing to the Ipad that they use for their Big Screen TV. A pair of Airpods sitting in the corners of the room being their surround sound.

But, I’m watching this.”

It’s a rerun and it’s on Netflix. You can pause it or watch it later. Now unglue your butt from your chair and give me a hand…Or, I suppose you Cooouuuuullld babysit the great grands while I have one of your grand daughters help out.”

Dang Old Woman !” Hummie grumped as he leap out of his chair,” I was comin’.. No need to get nasty about it.”

Hummie, now getting to be an old man, has gone somewhat Orange from his Magenta around his face when he was younger and had talked Ma into moving up to the homestead in the story; Ma meets Hummie from “Its all about Hummie”, rather than us moving down to the Idaho home. He is a little slower but more than enough to give the kids a go when he has had enough. Great grands flitting about the room as they chase one another makes Hum squint and hunch his shoulders as they whiz past. Daughters, sons, their kids and their kids’ kids all filling the open area of the Humstone.

Liam ! “ Hummie called.

Liam; Hummie eldest son who still lives with the clan leap up from his LazyHum chair, having been dozing…or..at least.. pretending to. ” Yeah Dah. I’m up…What?”

Get a handle on your grandkids would ya? Before I go all Grinch on the lot of you.”

Okie Dokie.” Liam said as he started making shooing noises and corralling in his grandkids, moving them off to one of the other immensely large..to the hums… rooms of their City home. Liam came back shortly, quietly closing the door, shutting down the laughing and cat calls of the wee humlings on the other side.

Three generations of Hummingbirds were in the kitchen making up Ma’s patented Super juice along with Gnat tartar and the great roast Beesss-t . Cranberry jelly that they had snitched from the homestead earlier in the year was being pried from the glass jars they had been canned in. The First of the Yule feasts under way had most of the clan bustling.

The boys, having had the Nature channel paused while Hum was busy with his Mrs. , all got up to stretch and do what few chores they still had on their lists. Wood had to be brought in from the fire. Perch entries had to be swept and or shoveled. The last of the hummy lights had to be put up around the outside of the home as well as being strung through the great room in the last minute prep before the beginning of the festivities .

The homestead being all but completely shy of any can-ables this year had the humsters flitting about the orchards and gardens above Gotham for winter goodies to be canned.

Plum puddings warming, apple and cherry tarts in the oven, the place was smelling of home.

Hummie glared at the platter of greens as he passed by. He was not a fan of anything green. Red is more his color of choice, bringing a grin to his beak as he passed by the cranberry jelly.

The Mrs. , shoved an arm full of garlands into his wings when he got close enough to the twig. He stood admiring the fine green needles and the spread as he hovered , just a bit to reach the top in order to lay a spiral of the garlands around and down.

Liam, standing back , watching started to comment when he was shut down with a warning glare by his dad. Shrugging, Liam picked up ornaments to help his folks fill the ” tree”… mostly so they could get back to ” Hummingbirds of the World“…. They were just getting to the good part when Hummie paused it; The long tailed hummers of South America … Liam shook his head, sucking in a bit of drool. Tree first, then back to the Latin Ladies.. oh yeah… He quickly looked over his shoulder to see if his Mrs. had caught him in thought. Sure enough, she stood in the kitchen, a knowing grin on her face and a large wooden spoon tapping against her apron. A weak grin and shrug sent her way, Liam got back to work.

The door banged open..as it always did when Lass stopped by, a swirl of light snow creeping in behind her and Hollywood as they stepped inside.

Now it’s a party!” She called, tossing her winter shawl that Ma had made for her onto the back of Hummie’s chair, snow already beginning to melt into the upholstery. “ So! What’s for dinner? I’m starving!”

Mrs, just laughed , chucking an ornament at her daughter. ” You want to eat? Then get in to the kitchen or come help with the twig.”

Hollywood, laughing, said; “ Well, I don’t know about you, but I would much rather she helped with the tree.”

Lass rolled her eyes giggling.

Liam laughed, ” Yeah, you’re not wrong. She could burn nectar .”

Lass gave him a mocking glare. “ Nectar isn’t cooked. We just drink it from the…..ohhh..Ha..Funny… Not. I can cook.”

And with that, the entire room erupted in laughter.

Lass looked around at all her sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews, mom and dad…” I can.”

Behind her, grinning, stood Hollywood shaking his head.

I know what you’re doing behind my back Hollywood.”

That just made him grin harder.

The Den

Limpy, the patriarch of the clan lay by the fire in the den. His hip always giving him grief in the colder weather softly snored. Mama coyote bustled about the den prepping for the holidays. Red giving her a hand as she was the eldest daughter and Dennis sat, staring at Limpy, willing him to wake up.

Rhey walked through the entry, seeing Dennis, padded behind him , smacking in in the back of the head.

Let Dad sleep.. Dork.”

What? I was just watching.”

You know that’s a little creepy.. Right?”

” But, I always do that.”

Yessss. and it is always creepy. Why aren’t you out hunting for mice or something.” Rhey hissed in his ear.

Cause Limpy said to stay home till he work up.”

“….Why?…”

He said he has a job for me.”

Really…” Rhey dead panned .” A job for you.”

Yup.”

That he actually wants done.”

Yup.”

That he expects you to remember.”

I suppose.”

Rhey turn to stare at her dad as well, shook her head then look back to Dennis.

Sooo talked to Jake lately? Did you get him something for Christmas?”

Jake the Bobcat?
No.. Jake from State Farm. Yes Jake the Bobcat. He’s your buddy right?”

Umm yes. He’s getting big. I don’t see him as much cause he had to move out . His mama said he had to get out and find a spot of his own.”

Is he going to be here for Christmas and Ma’s and Da’s?”

Pretty sure.”

You’d better get him something then. What did you get me? and it better not be some manky old bone again.”

Dennis’s face dropped as he looked to the tree at the mossy present he had there for Rhey.

Wellllllll… what did you want?”

Maybe something only mostly dead or something. Something a little less green then last year?”

Dennis squinted,” What did you get me then?”

Rhey snorted. “ Something you’ll like.”

Mama piped in from the dining area where she was tidying up, “ Dennis, go find your sisters and Jake something that doesn’t make their eyes water. I’ll let your dad know you waited till I said you could go.”

Really?!?” Dennis leap to his feet and promptly ran into the edge of the doorway leading out. Landing on his butt, he shook his head, leap up once again and through the door he went…where they could hear him run into the tree just outside the entry. Calling back through the entry way Dennis said “ It’s ok. I’m fine.” and off he ran.

Rhey sat, crossing her forelegs, head on paws as she stared at this year’s manky old bone and sighed.

Air Time

Our Girl came walking in with her boy; Bucky, now a yearling and yet hanging with his mom and her friends. A few other does browsed the meadow as the two came in to see Ma.

Hi Ma!” Bucky called as he leap the last few feet, looking over the edge of the deck to see what Ma was working on as she sat in her swing under the cover of the porch.

Hi Bucky. How are you guys today?”

Fine. Where’s Da? Whatcha making. Got any appules? It’s almost Christmas and I am going to see if I can get into the reindeer games this year.”

The young buck blurted, finishing with a gasp of air and a sigh.

Our Girl grin at her boy indulgently , smiled at Ma, rolling her eyes.

Ma laughed softly, her eyes sparkling as she watched Bucky beaming at her.

Well, Da is inside. We will have to buy apples this year..”

Bucky groaned then pouted.

Ma continued, “ I am working on baubles for the tree in the house, and..”

Bubbles?” Bucky cut in,” Won’t bubbles pop on the trees needles? They are all prickly.”

Ma sighed, waiting to make sure he was done interrupting … “ Baubles..See?”

Coool…Where did you get them?”

Ma used locks off a sheep’s fleece that was, well rooed which is like plucking their coats, you can see where the sun bleached the ends on the outer edges

then she spins it into very fine yarn

and then knits them into the baubles.” Our Girl explained to her son.

Seems like a lot of work. Dennis just catches mice and hangs them by their tails.”

Our Girl rolled her eyes yet again, looking apologetic towards Ma who smiled, shrugging.

” Folks decorate in their own ways.” Ma said. “ Da and I like the old world fashions that we can create ourselves . A lot of people pick up glitter and glitz from stores because they think that is better. Just how we celebrate the holidays differently than others in the flatlands do.”

Bucky nodded as he thought. “ I suppose not everyone knows Santa and his reindeer.”

Our Girl grin at her son, “ Most don’t even believe in him Bucky.”

But.. But.. He actually comes here and visits and I am going to be on his team one day I bet. I practice jumping all the time.” His eyes growing larger.

It’s ok Bucky. They will always stop by up here. They are regulars and I think Santa and Da just enjoy pestering each other.” Ma smiled.

Da always makes grumpy faces when the deer bounce on the roof. I don’t know why they do. They always come down in the yard while Santa visits.” Bucky said.

Just to annoy Da.” Ma laughed.

It finally started snowing. I was afraid it wouldn’t. It doesn’t looking Christmasy until it does. I know it makes Da bark though cause the dumb tractor wont work.” Our Girl put in.

Well, other than driving down to the Post Office, Da got his running around done before the storm came in so hopefully he wont have to leave again until everything calms down.. and yes, he does get grumpy about the snow. He doesn’t like us to get snowed in , in case there is an emergency.” Ma explained. “ So.. did you come up with any presents for the other kids Bucky?”

Yeahhhh. I talked with Jake…the bobcat, not the guy from State Farm, and we got a bunch of mice together for Dennis.. Theeeen I talked to Huggin and asked him for a feather for Jake, cause he always carries his around and it is getting all worn out.”

You have been busy then.” Ma smiled.

Meh.. Just hanging with my friends. Wanna see my jump? It’s pretty good.” Bucky boasted .

Sure Bucky. Let’s see your leaps and bounds. Can never start too early.” Ma grin.

Bucky backed up, then took off as fast as he could run, body lowering as he gathered himself and leapt into the air, over the fence and then back and over the junipers and back and over the stairs to the deck and back to where he started, panting once again.

Wow Bucky! You are really getting your air time in.” Ma said.

Bucky nodded prancing about the yard.

Our Girl grin at her son then to Ma and shrugged. ” It keeps him out of trouble.”

Final thoughts

A storm built as the week rolled by with predictions of a lot of snow for us. The tractor is, still, down, no matter what I do. Once again, I hope to make it through another winter and.. again.. hope to get it running well enough to get it into the shop to tear it down.. again…

The sami was running great.. Until weekend before last. I never have problems with it until I depend on it… After getting the battery charged back up, I found the connections were failing …and then the low idle woudn’t…out of the blue… A couple days of some minor work and a run to town for a couple parts and she is running again, if not how she normally does. She too will go into the shop after winter is done. I can’t afford to stick her in there now… The friggin door tends to “freeze” closed.. Our ground heaves many inches pushing stones as high as four and more inches up to block the door from opening.. Another thing that no matter what I do I can not change it, deep channels under the door and it still heaves enough to lock things up as well as winds swirl. No matter what direction the winds come from, snow will back easily four feet and higher as well as three times that outward, locking the shop down. The only way in and out is with a shovel and a crowbar just to get an opening wide enough for me to squeeze through. It simply is what it is, so as much as I would love to keep the sami in there and just bust her out, all nice and warm and clean to punch a hole for us to get out, it just isn’t going to happen.

There are now more families up here on Zen than there are parking spots at the end of the road. It doesn’t matter that for all but two of us on our section of road get a path cut now days, they will all park taking up the tiny area leaving us to our own…again it is what it is. Who knows what next year will look like but , once again, this is our winter and it does make me nervous when I hear ” Storm” just as it does when we have fires in the summer heading our way.. We do pay for our view in many ways.

Friday night Ma and I ate the last of the fresh tomatoes from our garden on BLTs. Long after most all folks had laid their gardens to bed, we were harvesting green tomatoes and placing them along the counter on paper plates in the morning room. Some ripen in days and some took pretty close to months. Most went into Pasta sauce. I would blanch and freeze gallon bags of them as enough would ripen. The very last four sat on the counter sticking to their green until a matter of days ago… So, we had 100% use of our green maters…

Earlier this week, I brought our small crop of potatoes that I had hanging in onion bags from the Shop rafters to put into a cooler in the entry. We didn’t get a lot and they were all small this year due to the rough summer we had, but we will be in no shortage for soups stews and such for some time to come.

At the very last moment, we lucked into finding a new wood crew that brought us in three cords of wood. We would have, for sure, run out without them, having our normal guy completely drop the ball on us at the very last possible moment.. needless to say unless we have no choice, we wont be dealing with him again. I bring in a load every day from the wood shed and we manage to keep the fire pretty low day and night, seldom having to restart but also not going through a ton of wood. I have the actual wood room filled for when we actually get the snow storms and trying to haul wood through snow that can easily be hip deep is a bit much. IN between storms, I refill any wood I use. I can keep about two months worth of wood in there, unless it gets really cold, then it is closer to a month.

Same goes with food stuffs. If we need to, rather than pick what we want to eat, we don’t even have to hit the shop or Innie for a few weeks…But, that would get old fast.

What’s for dinner?”

Cook’s choice; beans or soup…and gruel for breakfast.”

So, we can be snowed in for some time assuming all goes well. Even if we lose power, which I have a few times for up to about two weeks, we can make do…. Course, if it gets too cold then there is no outgoing water till it warms, and incoming, as it is a well, will eventually run out if not immediately and then it is warming snow… and all of that on the wood stove.. been there done that.. many times..

But!

For the now and any foreseeable future, all is well and comfy .

The snow is falling steady but for the now , temps are just high enough that it falls but doesn’t build, and

today is just another day on Zen Mountain

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