When I was growing up we lived in a rural part of Vermont with acres of woodland forest and meadows right out our back door. This was the place where I first connected with nature in a big way and because we were a four-season family living in a four-season world we found many ways to enjoy each season as it came and went.
When we were old enough to ski (cross country only because we could not afford alpine equipment and lift tickets) my Dad started a lovely New Year's tradition. He would set up a ski trail several days before and then on the night of New Years eve he's go out first and light luminaria along the trail. Then we'd all go out and follow in his tracks thru the still, crisp night. The luminaria were spaced so you could just see the next one off in the distance as you passed the one closest to you. Skiing in the dark (we did not have headlamps back then either) was sometimes a scary experience, especially if you were small and still learning to ski. If the weather was stormy we could not go because it was too dangerous for small children but often the New Year's Eve weather would be perfect: crisp and clear with no wind and out on the trail in that sacred stillness one felt that the world was filled with magic and enchantment... which of course, it was!
It was the only time we did this so it became a very special ritual. The trail began at our house and ended at our neighbors house a few miles away. Their family would have joined ours at the beginning of the evening and we'd ski the trail together. When we ended up at their house there would be hot chocolate, cookies and spiked egg nog for the grown-ups and the count-down to midnight.
I wish we had photos from those nights but back then digital cameras did not exist and even though my dad was a professional outdoor photographer, shooting at night, in winter was usually beyond the limits of his equipment. But what he gave us every New Year's was a renewed connection with Nature and Magic and tonight I am missing him AND I'm grateful for what he has given to me and my family by creating this memorable experience for us all to treasure and share.
Wishing you and yours all the very best for the New Year!
(image courtesy of : http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/1817542-151/skiers-flock-to-luminaria )