This Man’s Courageous Rebellion Against Themes Will Leave You Begging For More

This is supposed to be a list style column, but I’m so far out of touch with popular culture these days I don’t know where to start. It is impressive how short a time it takes to completely lose track of celebrity culture, contemporary music trends, and politics once you step away from the computer. I don’t spend any time online since getting the axe from the old job. I’ve got a lot more space in my head—too much, sometimes.

The farm is beautiful this time of year— this morning it is crisp and clear; a delicate frost is blanketing the fallen oak leaves and grasses. The sun is still low in the sky, its light touches the tops of the oak trees and telephone poles. I write outside, on an ancient 90’s era laptop my mom gave me a few years back. I try to write a thousand words a day, but sometimes settle for five hundred, depending on how my head is working. It’s cold enough that by the end of five hundred words my fingertips are numb, but I like it. I have a few reference books next to me: a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a Bible, New Living Translation. I prefer some of the language in the King James Version, but the New Living Translation is supposed to be the most accurate—dozens of biblical scholars and linguists went back to the original texts to cobble the edition together.

I’m not remotely religious, but those old texts are so rich with content— ancient parables passed down orally for potentially millennia before someone put them down in writing. I’m more drawn to the Old Testament than the New, I’ve always been enchanted by that which is very old. When I collected stamps as a kid I was only interested in the oldest stamps I could find, I concentrated on United States stamps dating back to the years just following the Revolution. Those were simple, one-color prints, although the etchings that were made from were incredibly detailed and elaborate. They bore the faces of George Washington, mostly, in light red, or pale green.

Anyway, in the spirit of the season, and maybe to atone for some of my grinchier missives on Christmas, here is a short list of things I actually like about the holiday season:

1. Eggnog. I don’t want to imagine Christmas without it. It is the lubrication and the fuel that steers me safely through the madness.

2. Fire. During December we burn large fires outdoors and smaller fires in the wood stove that keep the house warm and toasty. A good bonfire serves the same purpose as psychedelic mushrooms—it blows the tubes out and unclogs that clogged passageways in the mind, only the bad trips aren’t as severe.

3. The Light Quality. There is something about the light quality up here in the North State that has intrigued me since I moved up this way. When the sun never gets too high in the sky, it’s a little spooky and eerie, perfect for inspiration and painting.

Well, I’m out of room, my fingers are good and cold, and my head’s too numb to think up any more seasonal cheer.

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Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.