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The Christmas season feels like the last, only, true holiday because it is a season, not merely a day off, and not a normalized day off at that, forced like so many others to fall on a Monday. Christmas requires sustained attention: gift lists and gift choices, cards to prepare, decorations to place, visits, gatherings to organize or attend, outings. Christmas is a big interruption of everyday life, frantic, joyous, sometimes haunted by loss. It may (or may not) have origins in the Saturnalia, a hugely popular Roman holiday that also spanned many days. And where the Saturnalia included a reversal of social roles (slaves could talk back to masters, for example), the modern classic It’s a Wonderful Life suggests, if obliquely, the contrast Christmas offers to values that otherwise predominate. In that spirit, this slideshow celebrates our play rather than our work this year, though we certainly did plenty of the latter!

Barbara, Zoe, and I visited Barbara’s daughter Kimberly in Hawaii in February. Lyon Arboretum was one highlight, another was Ali'i Bluffs Bed & Breakfast, run by two retired New Yorkers, an artist De and his partner Don, who used their talent as collectors to create brilliant themed rooms, such as the slightly unsettling Circus room.

During spring break Barbara and I visited Lake Chelan, a 55 mile long narrow lake most of which lies inside a national recreation area. Its eastern end of rolling hills is orchard country, especially apples, with one major town, Chelan (below, from inside its museum), that draws many tourists but still feels part of the local community.

Lake Chelan is the vineyard frontier in Washington. Faced with increasing international competition in apples, some growers decided to try wine grapes . In the past decade, the area has gone from zero to over 15 vineyards, with more in development. On our bicycle tour of several we stopped at Hard Row to Hoe, whose interior (right) pays homage to a brothel that once existed up lake, serving miners who crossed the lake for its pleasures.

Returning from Chelan we stayed at the Balch Hotel in Dufur. Nestled in a crease in broad hills of wheat, the town seems an unlikely place for this beautiful brick structure, a survival from a century ago when a Southern Pacific rail line ended here (no rail lines or roads had been built through the Columbia Gorge yet). Beautiful craftwork, including fine details in the brickwork, was a pleasure to behold. And we enjoyed a flavorful breakfast that featured baked grapefruit!

In July we led a backpacking trip into the Trinity Alps with Zoe’s sister LeeAnn, her friend Tovi, and Tovi’s Mom Eunice (pictured), none of whom had ever tried this before. We soaked sore muscles in the cold, clear waters of Stuart Fork, which the trail faithfully followed. (I had to include the bear, who was a thrill to see and showed no interest in us whatsoever .)

After two days uphill hiking we reached Emerald Lake and setup camp. The exposed granite, shining white or streaked with minerals from water streaming down, and the extremely jagged ridgelines, were an astonishing change from the dense forest we emerged from. Zoe and LeeAnn, among others, found granite surprisingly pleasant for sunbathing.

Ashland is a small city yet a major cultural Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest the U.S. In August Zoe and I saw Barbara and I went with our friends Henry the Fourth, Part I and Pride many beautiful hiking trails as well. waving from atop Grizzly Peak.)

center, due primarily to the regional repertory theatre in Hamlet, and in October Wayne and Linda to watch and Prejudice. The area has (Barbara and Wayne are

For Barbara’s birthday in December we joined her sister Kristin to cross-country ski at Mount Hood on some of the best snow I’d ever experienced. And throughout the year we’ve been busy with home improvement projects (work that often counts as play), including this stone path and a one-bedroom apartment. Hope the year to come treats you well! Merry Christmas 2010 from Zoe, Barbara, and Joseph!

Merry Christmas 2010  

Christmas greetings to family and friends.

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