10 sec. exposure of the Great Blue Heron lake.

The period between July and December is typically the longest stretch away from the Heron that I’ll make in a normal year. So, me and Nate always look forward to taking the early-winter journey up to New York for the Blue Heron Winter Party. It’s now a bit of a tradition, where we see all of our GBH family and re-connect with the festival.

Nathan and I took our friend (and my new apartment Hearthtender) Beth up in our carpool, and we were some of the first to arrive. I’d guess that by the end of the evening, we had over 60 people crammed inside (and outside) of Julie and Steve’s house:

I’d say just as many people were outside at this time.

As usual, we had a white elephant gift exchange, so I brought up two 20×30″ prints of some Blue Heron photographs that I took a few years ago. I was elated that they became a hot commodity, getting stolen several times from one to another. There is nothing more heart-warming for a photographer. 🙂

As always, I got the chance to catch up with all of my Blue Heron family, and was happy to see that the Rockcastle’s farm was doing well, Paxton was getting huge, and everyone was happy and healthy. Nathan and I visited the famed Grandma’s House, just to do a quick evaluation of what needs to be done for next year. We’re going to have to do a little terraforming to fix some of the rain puddles and bumps that are cropping up; nothing we can’t handle.

Kristine and Julie. Best smiles of the day?

As usual, Julie and Steve were gracious enough to let us crash on the couch – we are some of the long-haulers of the festival family, and after a belly full of Julie’s Glögg and a body empty on sleep, we knew the three-hour drive might be a bad idea. But either way, I cherish the nights we spend at the Rockcastle’s house. I played piano for hours as activity died town and everyone began drifting off to sleep. And Julie and Steve always manage to make breakfast an event; venison sausage patties, eggs from their chickens, organic feta cheese. I tried raw milk for the first time, which was tasted delicious.

Further proven, Julie and Steve have truly mastered the art of living. I can’t wait to see them for the winter ski party. Nathan and I have already begun development on next year’s art project, which will hopefully outdo the last one.