The Yule Bough

Rhey sat in the cover of the buck brush, cold winds blowing in from the south. Frost slipped from the branches, misting into the young coyote’s eyes.

“Where are they?” Rhey squinted , trying to look through the Living Room windows.

Dennis chewed on the branch that had just recently smacked him across the nose during one of the gusts. Looking to his sister, a grin began to creep across his muzzle..

” Noooo.. Don’t you even think…..” Rhey called as she lean back.

Too late. Dennis had gathered himself and leapt, tackling his sister and had begun to run off. Rhey bit down on his passing tail before he could get cleanly away.

“Pleh, pleh, pleh… Your tail is nasty. What have you been rolling in?”

” Nothing yet this morning.”

Rhey shivered involuntarily at the thought of all of the nastiness her brother tended to get into, grabbing up a mouthful of frozen leaves in an attempt to get rid of the taste.

Dennis , wrestling with his branch, tossed it into the air and caught it, swinging around to see if Rhey saw. Mid swing, the branch caught Rhey across the muzzle causing her to let out a yelp. Dennis’s eyes grew big while Rhey squinted.

Spinning mid leap, Dennis took off at a run, crossing the field before he thought to look back. Rhey sat in the same spot she had been, staring at the porch.

“Aren’t you going to chase me?”

” No.”

” But..Why not?”

” Too cold..Busy.”

” Running will warm you up.”

” Getting smacked on the nose warmed me up just fine. Come back over and I’ll rip out your throat.”

Dennis’s eyes got big, his jaw went slack, dropping his stick. He stared at his sister for a moment, shook himself, grabbed up his stick and threw it in the air, catching it once again. ” Nuh uh..Mama would be mad at you.” He pranced back, his stick, a banner streaming above his head, until it tangled in a branch over his head, plucking it from his mouth. The stick spiraled from the momentum, heading directly at Rhey. Dennis stopped and began to back up, then spun and ran as he heard the stick smack into Rhey’s side.

“AGGHHH!!!!” Rhey cried out as she spun and ran after Dennis who had begun to giggle in panic.

The Porch door open, causing Rhey to slide to a stop and watch as Ma and Da stepped out into the porch area, quietly talking about the sudden chill.

Dennis forgotten , Rhey padded back to the brush where she was greeted by her humans.

“Morning Rhey. Hi Dennis.” Da called out. ” What mischief are you two up to this morning?”

” I have a stick!” Dennis called back. ” See?”

” Very nice.”

“Maybe from a distance.” Grumbled Rhey.

” It is so friggin cold this morning.” Ma said as she shivered.

The temperature had dropped from 28F at 5am to 14F by 9am. The south winds chill and unforgiving.

Ma had made wool covers for Lass’s feeders to keep them relatively warm.. then added two more layers over it.

Rhey lay down, crossing her forelegs and laying her head on them .. It was Lass time so she might as well wait..

Lass, came buzzing out of her juniper, slower due to the cold, but still strong. Da had put up some wind protection for her with tarps across the east fence next to her apartment. Unfortunately, the East winds were still coming from the South, The tarps doing little to help keep Lass warm. The little hummingbird refused to go to town even after Hummie had chewed her out for days on end, and her sister heading to town. She was bound and determined to stay.

Ma kept asking her if she wanted to come in, as she had before, but Lass would have nothing to do with that either.

The cold had come in a full twelve hours earlier than it was suppose to and , supposedly, this was only the beginning.

Lass shivered, got into the lee of the winds behind the feeder to have her breakfast. The juice, much warmer than the weather , at least warmed her toes a bit. ” It’s too cold. I’m heading back to snuggle in bed and wait this out.” With that, Lass swung around, heading back to her little apartment and snuggled back in to her sleeping bag.

Rhey sat up, her tail slowly wagging across the scattered leaves. ” My turn?”

“Sure Rhey. What’s up?”

” It’s Yule!”

” Happy Yule Rhey. Do you..”

” Yes, yes Happy Yule. Are you guys going to get the bough today?”

” Well, yes. We always do on first day of Yule.”

” Good. Can I help?”

” You want to pick out the bough?”

” No.. Could you cut one for the den too?”

” Sure.. and you want to pick out that one?”

” No.”

” So you want us to leave a bough for you then?”

” No.”

“Ooooookkkkay …. What is it then that you would like Rhey?”

” Cut a bough for the den, but you guys keep it for us.” She turned to glare at her brother. ” If I put it in the den Sloppyjaw over there would just chew on it.”

Dennis looked behind himself, then back to Rhey. “Oh me? Yep yep I would.” He said , grinning from ear to ear, nodding vigorously till his eyes started spinning.

Rhey, watching her brother, let her ears drop , her lips pressing together as she grimaced…” Seeeeee…”

“Ok Rhey, we can do that. Did you want to decorate it or anything?”
Dennis, still nodding , opened his mouth, until he saw Rhey glaring at him and slowly lay down, pouting.

” No. That’ll do.” She said, turning back to look at her pet humans again. ” We’ll just come and carol around it this winter.”

” I see…. So, basically, you are just putting together an excuse to press your wet nose against the window screen and sing in my ear in the middle of the night.”

………” Maybe.” She said, a toothy grin creeping across her face. ” Happy Yule.” She called over her shoulder as she padded over the berm.

Dennis, tearing at the bark on his stick finally looked up to see his sister missing. ” She did it again.” He jumped up and began to run off. Stopping, he turned , ran back, grabbed his stick, waved and ran off again, chasing after his sister.

” Well, it’s too cold for me out here, I’m heading in.”

Ma nodded. ” I need to go warm back up by the fire.” She said and slipped into the house , unwrapping layers of shawls ran over to the wood stove to start toasting one side, then the other.

The hopefully short winter cold snap is making Zen a fairly uncomfortable spot at the moment. Weather predictions look and sound fairly grim for a bit. Predictions are calling for Neg 3F and wind chill beyond minus 20.. Other forecasters predict up to some seven new inches of snow with a quarter inch to two inches of ice on top of that. We are really hoping for something in between. For us, we just have to worry about losing power which would knock out our water. The last big ice storm had me snowed and iced in for over a week, huddled by the woodstove, cooking on it and gathering snow for water, reading by the light of the fire.. We can always boil snow for water, but could lose the pump house.

As far as for the kids, either extreme could be horrible for a lot of the wildlife up here. Unless Lass is willing to come back in, she would have a very hard time of it.

We wont have a clue about how it all turns out until at least Christmas Day…

I hope everyone enjoys their holidays, which ever you follow.

Happy Yule from Zen Mountain


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