I love gray days in the mountains and yesterday was no exception. We went for a short ride to Black Mountain Lake before returning to cook for New Year’s. I had actually thought we would go for a short walk—my first since last July and before I first heard the “cancer” word.

Once we got to the lake, we decided that it was way too cold to hike very far. Here’s Pat looking across Black Rock Mountain Lake. This is a really nice place to hike especially late in the afternoons when it is a bit warmer.

Anne forgot her mittens, coat, and heavy scarf and it was super cold!

There were hundreds of Canadian Geese wintering in this small mountain lake. When we saw them, we were sure that we would get some great photos. Then a family with a black Lab and a “band of children” showed up, and you know what happened–geese scattered everywhere. We took a couple of photos but quickly retreated to the quiet winter roads through Wolffork Valley.

These little ducks seemed curious enough but the noise and excitement of the hour caused them to paddle on by.

While we were driving, I saw a woman feeding a small herd of cows. The old news reporter in me always likes to stop and to talk with people. So we turned around and stopped. We learned that she and her husband raise cattle and also have some milk cows. They have lived in this valley all their lives and own two homes: one is a small cabin that they decorate each year for Christmas. It was built in 1876 from logs milled in the area and was her husband’s great grandmother’s home.

There’s more to the story but I won’t write it here! It does involve suspense and tragedy and joy and happiness. On this day, she was feeding her cows some grain that she said was “sweet and full of good things” for them in these cold winter months.

She also was using the feed to distract them so they would not notice her husband putting hay out in the fields. Can I tell you: the distraction worked perfectly! These were happy, happy cows!

I have always loved this scene. I almost didn’t recognize it in mid-winder.

The farms are barren—no crops to harvest—but they do provide shelter for animals.

Gentle guy who is not afraid to look at me or to stare me down!