Hugs are a little tighter now and last a few seconds longer. Knowing glances are still exchanged. But we are moving headlong into the future in Glen Ellen.

Our beautiful steel truss bridge at the crossing of Sonoma Creek between Glen Ellen and Eldridge has gotten into the holiday spirit. This navy-gray bridge was built in 1931, and was saved from destruction by Glen Ellen native Jim Berkland, before he died. This year, it is hung with lively bright icicle lights hanging from end to end, greeting tired commuters as they return home in the glooming darkness of winter.

Financed by PG&E, this lighting project and others were intended as a show of unity from the Sonoma Visitors Bureau to up-Valley communities after the fire.

Jim had swung from the steel under-rafters of “The Arnold Drive Bridge” as a kid in the early 1940s with friends, and hunted crawdads in the creek below, later to sell them in town for a penny a piece. When it became time to tear the bridge down and replace it with a simple cement road somewhere around 2000, Jim petitioned the state to place it on the California historical monument list and it became Historic Landmark No. 169.

Repaved, re-welded, repainted, it is grand in its history and stature, and many in town want to name the bridge in Jim Berkland’s honor.

Speaking of getting into the spirit, there’s a charming row of Christmas trees on the Administration Drive lawn at Sonoma Developmental Center. Each department has designed and decorated a Christmas tree, and they stand in a line like sentinels of morning stars twinkling in the winter sun. There’s a sparkly one from the Active Treatment Team, a charming one from the housekeeping department. Human resources, plant operations, psychology – all departments submitted a tree decoration to be enjoyed by passersby. Employees will vote for their favorite, and get a special something as a prize.

Further news of the season from Glen Ellen is that the jolly Christmas hayride with Neil Shepard and the gang of merry elves is on. Neil’s striking Clydesdales, Willie, Sunny, Gus and Max, will be hauling the sleigh hay wagon as per tradition and is scheduled this Saturday. Meet at the Jack London Lodge parking lot, Saturday, December 16, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Practice your harmony for holiday carols to sing out Christmas cheer!