Early snow this season. Much earlier than I’ve seen in decades. Some will say this means there is no global warming but they also think anything that happens more than 50 miles away doesn’t really exist, it’s just media hype. But in truth we seldom have a really white Christmas here in Punxsutawney and it looks like the only places in Central PA to have a white Christmas this year will be the ski resorts with artificial snow machines because that early snow has nearly all melted off.

Christmas tree capital

Near here we have what is known as the Christmas tree capital of the country, Indiana, PA,

Great Britain uses between 8 and 9 million Christmas trees each year while the U.S.

makes do with about 41 million and millions of those come from a single family-owned business, Musser’s Nursery near Indiana, PA, the town famous for actor Jimmy Stewart. The Musser's grow millions of trees at all times, some are actually harvested for Christmas, but mainly Musser's Nursery grows seedlings for others to plant. In fact, when I had a ranch I planted 100 Douglas firs myself.

Indiana used to bill itself as the Christmas tree capital of the world but actually Oregon State grows more in total, although Indiana is just a single county, not an entire state so we still have a strong claim.

Gifting among nearby strangers

The people who bought our ranch (we now live next door in small place we retired to) are essentially strangers to us, we don’t get together for holidays or anything, but every year they drop off fancy cookies and candy and this morning I dropped off my fresh, homemade brioche.

That’s not uncommon around here; neighbors often exchange gifts even though they may only see each other to wave every week or so. We’re not unfriendly, just private. After all, if we wanted to live in a human ant hill we’d move to the city instead of living out here in the country.

Middle America’s 'deplorables'

Nevertheless, the same 'deplorables' blamed for electing Trump are always ready to come to each other’s aid when in need, especially in winter when the first one out with a plow often does several neighbor’s drives.

Three of us share a driveway but Rick drives a State plow truck so he is never home during a storm and someone else usually plows the worst of his driveway out beyond our houses. In summer he is usually the one who repairs the half-mile long driveway.

Guns everywhere

You might think people are polite because everyone has guns but although the eastern elite politicians were right that we cling to them, that’s just because we actually need them.

What big city elites forget is that many days the nearest policeman might be 50 miles away or that we have deer and even bear roaming our yards (I counted 6 deer trying to kill my orchard this evening). Bear kill dogs and people, even dead deer litter the side of every road. Even the town’s famous groundhog has relatives which dig holes that can break a horse’s leg. A few years ago stray dogs killed a dozen of my rare St. Jacob sheep so It's not unusual to see someone walking around with a rifle but it is very unusual to hear of a person getting shot.

Christmas - and the guns will fall silent, mostly

Since this year the 25th will be a Sunday, there will be little gunfire this Christmas, not, as some Easterners think because we will all be too drunk, but because you can’t hunt on Sundays in Pennsylvania, unless you are hunting coyote, wild boar, fox, and for some reason, crows.

This Sunday lots of people will crowd the many churches in this rural area, often after giving their animals a special treat. You see, many of us actually have mangers. Sometime during the morning or afternoon, depending on whether the household has young children, presents get opened, relatives visit each other, and there is usually a big meal in the late afternoon.

Deplorable we may be, but we enjoy it.

In a way Hillary was right. There used to be a KKK Grand Wizard near here. His garage burned down. Months later his house. He moved away.