Wrapping up Christmas in Petersburg

Julebukking and the Community Holiday Concert wrapped up the holiday season here.  The concert showcased a variety of musical talent, including Jim singing with the Oxford Carolers.Jim has really gotten into baking – not the healthiest hobby – but this year he was very generous and (thankfully) gave most of his homemade cookies away as gifts.  He also won the boat category for best holiday lights from the Chamber of Commerce, though there was virtually no competition.  He keeps upping his game every year hoping to inspire others to decorate their boats, but since most of the boats in the harbor are commercial fishing boats…

The inside of the boat has been decorated, and we even have a “boat tree” made by my old Sea Scout buddy – it’s perfect.Many of you keep asking about Julebukking… so besides reading the link to Wikipedia, I’ll just say that it’s a chance for all the local businesses and organizations around town to say thank you to all their customers.  They offer cookies, treats, things like smoked salmon, cold cuts, cheese, veggies, fruit and usually some kind of punch.  Each business tends to have something special that they do, and the hosting events are spread across the calendar, leading up to Christmas.  It means days of gastronomic debauchery for all of us…The airport had a nice spread, though it gets a bit crowded if you come too close to flight time.  The hardware store had a fabulous selection this year, with meatballs, wings, pickled herring, smoked salmon, lefse… and everyone’s favorite: “moose milk”, made with softened ice cream and White Christmas liquor in a 5 gallon paint can, shaken in the paint shaker.Coastal Seafood had huge piles of shrimp – cajun and regular, and the pharmacy had their usual – fantastic pastrami sandwiches… served by Santa’s elves.We went to Christmas dinner with friends, many who also live aboard boats in the harbor.  Our hosts almost had a disaster with the Christmas ham.  A few days before Christmas their refrigerator was pretty full and the weather was quite cold, so they set the ham in the garage.  A moment’s inattention leaving the garage door open was all it took for the ravens to find the ham and just start to attack the wrapping.  The ham was saved before they got it open, but you have to move fast because the ravens are faster.

It was a nice holiday, but now we’re tired – trying to shake the sugar addiction and eating lots of salad!  The days are slowly getting longer – we gained another 2 minutes since yesterday.  We’ll take every minute we can get.

A Little More Christmas in Petersburg

Oh, we’re not finished with the big ramp-up to Christmas just yet… but here’s another installment of holiday goings-on in town since the last posting.

Pretty twinkling lights have popped up all over, and the store fronts on the main street are particularly creative and festive.Santa’s Mailbox is out, and it’s fun to watch the young folks sharing their wishes.  Their letters are copied and published in our weekly paper before they’re forwarded to The North Pole – to Santa’s Workshop.  We were struck this year by how many little children asked for things for their brothers or sisters, and even for their parents as well as for themselves.

Santa and Mrs. Claus made a surprise visit to one of our knitting groups…Oh… he really gets around.  Last Saturday he came to the Community Center by helicopter!  (He’s a busy guy, so sometimes it’s better to take advantage of a quick ride while the reindeer are resting up for the big night.)

The Sons of Norway sponsored the annual Pickled Herring Contest – well attended, and with several repeat winners who have come up with new variations of pickled and smoked herring and other seafood dishes.

The Sons of Norway also held their Christmas dinner – the Julbord – serving turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and a huge variety of side dishes and fantastic desserts (baked with butter and love!) brought by the 200 members who attended.The Middle School and High School bands held their holiday concerts, complete with sing-alongs and a rockin’ jazz band.  Music director Matt wore his best elf hat (complete with pointy ears), and everyone was impressed at the progress the Beginner Band (6th grade) made.The Clausen Museum had an open house last Sunday, and the Oxford Carolers performed – a group that Jim sings tenor in (he’s hiding in the back row).“Toots and Squeaks” also played – recorders and a violin to get everyone in the spirit of the season, to go with lots of treats and new artwork by people from around town.I spent last Saturday in the pouring rain and cold wind at the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.  Despite the usual awful weather we’ve had every year, it’s a lot of fun to team up with other birders and do our part for Citizen Science.  I’ve learned about lots of great little spots to find birds on the island, as well as techniques and tips.  If you wear good warm layers and waterproof gear, bring several towels to dry binoculars with, and you bring your thermos of hot tea or coffee – it’s a great way to spend a day.  Our groups spotted 46 different species of birds on count day.

The Winter Solstice was two days ago – the shortest day of the year (though yesterday was just as short).  Technically the sun rose at 8:27am and set at 3:13pm, but it takes a while for the light to come over the mountains in the morning, and it ducks below them a little earlier in the afternoon.  All this low angle light paints the mountains a golden-rose in the mornings and a warmer pink in the afternoons – the alpenglow has been fantastic.  We celebrate the Solstice particularly because it means that from now on, every day will be a little longer.  We’ll start gaining 5 minutes a day in another 6 weeks or so.

There’s still more Christmas to come since Julebukking is now in full swing.  We just came back from Julebukking at the airport, and we’re off to see the new Police station and to sample their treats.  Tomorrow is the hardware store and my favorite… “moose milk”.. so stay tuned.

In the meantime, we wish you all Peace and Joy this holiday season.