Winter is beautiful everywhere…

…but after loving several Vermont winters, I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to be on the west coast this time of year. The parks are all lush and green. The temperatures are cold enough for sweaters, but my eyelashes aren’t freezing to my face.

And so, we have been getting our hike on. Every day that isn’t raining, we at least take a walk to the open space around the corner. Yesterday we followed squirrel roads, bothered a camel cricket and took off in an oak tree airplane. We found mushies that we hoped were Candy Caps, but they turned out to be a lookalike. Boo. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying a candy cap mushroom, you need to make it happen. I cook four or five of the tiny candy caps in butter (you need to cook them in fat to bring out the flavor) and the whole house smells like maple syrup for days. But, I digress.

A few days ago, we actually piled into the truck and spent a few hours at Briones Regional Park. It was the perfect day to be out in the woods…misty and cool, only a few other souls about…an opportunity to practice being quiet like a fox.

The sun would burn a hole in the clouds for a moment, and then retreat.

Conditions were perfect for mushie-hunting, but no edibles that we knew.

There were slippery, leafy hills to navigate…

…and mellow paths to tromp along.

We came upon a gorgeous, well-tended Medieval-style labyrinth. I have not been successful in finding much information about it, except that it was recently restored. It is artful and serene, surrounded by a branch fence. We walked it in silence…the Boy seemed to understand and only broke in for a few questions, mainly on specifics about construction (of course). We made an offering, and the adults made a secret plan to come back early some morning, alone. I tend not to photograph sacred spaces, so you’ll have to see it for yourself if you’re in the area.

In holiday news, it is the eve of Yule, an important celebration around these parts.

Yesterday, the kids in the house collected herbs, berries and greenery to decorate the Yule log we will burn tomorrow night, and today, M (my li’l sis-in-law) and I are going to attempt the baking of a traditional Buche de Noel to add to the celebratory feast. This will, of course, be gluten-free. I can’t get around the dairy, as it’s absolutely loaded with buttercream, but I seem to be almost okay with pastured butter. I anticipate a few days discomfort after any family event these days, anyway, so whatever. It’s going to be beautiful. I might even be content to just look at it.

Sure.

Anyway, should be messy…will document!

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