HERE AT THE CHURCH O THE PINES, on our Minnesota stretch of the great Mississippi, the day begins with a cold, gray dawn. But along the horizon line there is the slightest pink cast, the promise of a fair day. Under the ice, Minn of the Mississippi sleeps; while above, the downstream geese, gathered at a last patch of open water, begin to gabble.
The river is not wide by the old cabin here, not like it is 600 miles to the south. I could span it with two good 3-Wood shots, one from my shore and the second from the ice. But that ice out in the middle is not yet trustworthy enough for me to march out there with a golf club. Were I interested in doing so.
On shore, hoarfrost covers the pine needles as it did yesterday, the result of a layer of frosty, freezing fog—fffog?–imparting a lovely, light glaze to the woods.
The members of the congregation have not yet arrived. Were it spring or summer, we would already hear them—the heavenly Hermit Thrush warbling from the deep woods. The Cardinal proclaiming his mastery of the high notes. The Nuthatches and Chickadees gossiping. But on a December morn it is quiet yet, save for two Great Horned Owls booming from across the river.
But soon enough all will be here, exchanging Sunday morning pleasantries and how are you’s and ‘have you heard what the sermon will be today?’
There. The first Nuthatch has arrived, talking softly to his kin, pleased that the Fellowship Hall pastries and coffee are already out for the early arrivals. Now the Crow Clan announce their presence with much gusto, and the day is well begun. From our humble Church O’ The Pines, we wish you Good Sabbath…