It is December 13, the temperature is 64 degrees and I am writing this column on my front porch. Sunset will arrive in less than an hour and the holiday lights in my neighborhood will soon brighten up the night. Mountaintop and most of the east coast has just enjoyed the warmest mid December temperatures ever. The grass is still green the spring shrubs are starting to bud and now rifle deer season is over. My woodland hike is now safe again. December 2015 is a gift. I hope the gift keeps on giving.
The countdown is on for me and it’s not Christmas. The Winter Solstice for 2015 in Mountain Top is Monday, December 21, 2015 at 11:49 PM EST. That is one week and one day from this writing. On that “day” we have 9 hours and 12 minutes of daylight here in Mountaintop. The sun rises at 7:25 a. m. and sets at 4:38 p. m. On a dark cloudy day it’s pretty dark at the official sunset time. But with a sunny day we are good for a bright sunset.
December 21 is the shortest day of the year, when the Sun reaches its most southern point in the sky at local noon. After this date, the days start getting longer. I always look forward to the solstice in every season, but especially the winter one. It marks that day that the daylight hours will start to increase. It is only a minute or two a day, but by June 21 and the summer solstice we will be enjoying a 15 hour 7 minute “day” as long as the nights are now.
Although our temperatures are at record highs, the cold dark mornings and the short window of strong light between 11 a. m. and 2 p. m. each day is simply not enough for me. I am so thankful to enjoy the bright lights of Christmas for this final week before the days begin to lengthen.
Charlie and I enjoyed a special pre-Christmas family weekend at Skytop as the temperatures soared near 70. Lara and Mark and Charlie, Patrick, Kate and Maggie Dicus joined us for some energetic, swimming, ice-skating, hiking, and gourmet dining. Skytop is a unique vintage Pocono resort built in 1928 and continues to enjoy a resurgence of interest and enjoyment for generations of families.
Skytop was ground zero for the Eric Frein manhunt of the fall of 2014. 48 days on the run through the nearby woods was a big damper for autumn color business. Not so this year. Santa still came to Skytop in a horse drawn wagon. Do we really need snow to enjoy Christmas?
Lara and I enjoyed an invigorating 2-mile walk around Skytop Lake on Saturday and cajoled the rest of the family to enjoy the pleasure on Sunday. The resort has a beautiful golf course that Charlie and I have enjoyed many times and the flags were in the holes and a few carts made available for a round of December golf. We did not bring our clubs as golf takes many hours and our visit was with family. I still yearned to tee off and play a few holes. Lara and I walked a few holes around the 555-acre property after our lake experience.
Skytop was decorated in gorgeous Christmas splendor. The Pine Room is the large hardwood floor first floor great room where Saturday night dances are enjoyed. Revelers from birth to the 90’s enjoyed the color and music. The Elimination Dance and Grand March have been held since 1930. Maggie Dicus and I wore matching red sparkly dresses perfect for twirling.
It was our family’s first visit to Skytop for a Christmas weekend and I hope we can enjoy it again.
Toys for Tots This Week The Mountaintop Eagle’s Toys
for Tots collection has grown over the past couple of weeks and the Marines are coming to pick up the donations on Friday December 18. They usually come early, so if you are dropping off your toys come by Thursday December 17. The spirit of giving has many opportunities this time of year with programs at churches and non-profit organizations also seeking gifts.
Appointment Rescinded The newly seated Crestwood
School Board acted swiftly to rescind the appointment of Margaret Foster as the district’s new superintendent after their reorganization meeting last week. Foster is the Fairview Elementary principal and does not yet have superintendent’s credentials. Joe Kaminski, Ron Sturgeon, and Bill Jones voted with Eric Aigeldinger, Maureen McGovern and Randy Swank to rescind the appointment. Foster was hired at the November board meeting with affirmative votes from former directors Jerry Orloski, Gene Mancini and incumbents William Thomas, Ken Malkemes and Norb Dotzel.
Aigeldinger, McGovern and former director Mike Marshall voted against the appointment last November.
I don’t think lame duck boards should force controversial appointments or decisions. The Crestwood board needs to spend some time getting to know each other and to review their policies and decisions.
Christmas Coming We are down to our last week before
Christmas. Gifts need wrapping, cards should be mailed, holiday meals planned. As we wind down our gift shopping this week, let us be thankful for all that we have, and pass on that thought to everyone in our families. Sometimes it is not a tangible gift that we give, but time and energy to a person in need. A phone call, letter, email—whatever you do to keep in touch with friends, family and neighbors goes a long way in this special season.
Everybody should really take the time to ride around Mountaintop at night and enjoy all of the lighted houses. There is so much imagination in many of the displays. It doesn’t matter if the house is small or large the talented light decorators are abundant.
Many families are shopping, decorating, making cookies and enjoying celebrations of all sizes and with many different friends and groups. Just about every church has some sort of Christmas program and most have special services too. After all the preparation we stop to remember that Christmas is in celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ so long ago in Bethlehem. There is so much war and unrest in the area of the world where Jesus lived and taught his message of love. Our wish for Peace on Earth is never fully realized, for there is always somewhere a place that is suffering.