Two white-tailed deer might have been getting ready for a big New Year’s Eve celebration when they were spotted last Saturday afternoon.Recent rainfall helped to create this scene at the Trail of Tears State Forest on the last day of 2022. For quite a while, especially in August and September, the creek bed was pretty dry due to last year’s drought.

Traditions continue...without any frostbite

Please read this...

So...is a tradition still a tradition if the tradition happens a week late?

On the final day of 2022, yours truly took a walk in a creek bed...and cooked something on the grill. Under “normal” circumstances, such activities would have been part of your writer’s day on Christmas Eve.

As you may recall, our holiday season traditions over the years have included taking a trip to the Trail of Tears State Forest on Christmas Eve. When we get back home, we cook something on the grill. We’ve been able to keep those traditions alive in all sorts of weather. One of my favorite memories involved cooking on the grill when sleet was falling from the sky...

Mother Nature, however, put a bit of an ice cold damper on keeping a couple of holiday traditions in 2022. The high temperature on the day before Christmas in our little corner of the world was a mere 25 degrees. The low on December 24 was 5 degrees. 

The cold was accompanied by a breeze which might have made things more comfortable on a hot summer’s day in the middle of July...just not so much in late December. I suppose one good thing is that there wouldn’t be any mosquitoes.

With the icy cold in mind, I decided to heed the advice of The Other Half and made a change or two in my holiday plans. Frostbite just did not seem like a smart way to spend Christmas. She suggested that I wait just a bit to keep the traditions going.

The final day of 2022 was indeed a bit “milder.” Our local weather observer reported that the high temperature on December 31 was a balmy 47 degrees, which was much nicer that 24. Almost made me want to go out and trim the grass in the lawn.

Instead, I got in the car early last Saturday afternoon and headed for the woods. I was hoping that I might catch a glimpse of some wildlife on the way.  While motoring along Mountain Glen Road, I saw four or five vultures which appeared to be having lunch. I could not see what was on the menu.

Not long after leaving Illinois Route 127 and turning on to the State Forest Road, I caught a glimpse of two white-tailed deer off to the right. I went up the road and turned around, hoping that the deer would hang around for a photo or two. They obliged...and then decided they had better things to do.

The state forest turned out to be a pretty quiet place on New Year’s Eve. I was able to get in a nice walk along a creek bed, which even had some water in it. Such was not the case for a good part of the time in the later summer and early fall of 2022.

 During my trek in the creek bed, I spotted a couple of treasures left behind by creatures which lived millions of years ago...when Union County was at the bottom of the sea. At one point, I picked up a fossil and wondered what Devonian seafood might have tasted...probably like chicken.

Turned out I was not the only one who decided to pay an end-of-the-year visit to the state forest. While I was in the creek bed, another traveler on the Journey Through Life happened to walk by along the nearby State Forest Road. We exchanged greetings and continued our New Year’s Eve adventures.

I ended up spending about an hour in the creek bed. As it turned out, the visit was indeed about keeping a tradition alive, even if it was a little bit late...

On the way back home, I saw one more critter...an armadillo...which was existing in the past tense on the State Forest Road. We have not seen our neighborhood armadillo since October.

After I got back home, the milder weather made another holiday tradition possible. We cooked some hamburgers on the grill...and I didn’t have to worry a bit about frostbite. Maybe we’ll get back to “normal” when Christmas rolls around in December...

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158
Email: news@annanews.com

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