Long, long ago the big saw worked very hard. It kept very busy. Back and forth, back and forth it whispered, chewing through pond ice to cut blocks for farmers to store away in sheds.

Today it's retired. But it still whispers an icy song ... now its blade shows a painted scene of a wolf howling into the night, with snowy mountains and a lake nearby. It's still busy, showing beauty.

Friday morning it hung in Kathy Kring's art shed near Herrickville. Kathy's business was on the annual Santa's Sleigh Ride shopping tour, which highlights arts and crafts businesses in the Northeast Bradford area. Shoppers may pick up maps at shops and travel from one to the other at their leisure. The tour continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today.

And speaking of being busy - many shops were just that Friday. Visitors looked, bought and "sledded" their way to the next stop, enjoying a different kind of Black Friday shopping.

"So far, so good!" Frank Morales reported at the Country Goose near LeRaysville. "We hope the trend keeps up." Shoppers were waiting outside before 9 a.m., he noted.

"It's been pretty steady like this," Karen Matoushek said at Elmo's Crafts, near Rome. The Ride was going well, Mary Abell noted, at Abell Productions, in the hills above Rome.

"We're very busy."

Down in town, Terri Pelletier and Lorraine Lewis were also seeing a good day at Rainy Day Knit-n-Sew and Colonial Quilts. "Excellent!" Lorraine pronounced the day. "We have had a nice crowd. It's been steady all day."

Kathy's a newcomer to the Sleigh Ride, although her shop's been open a couple years now. She paints on saws, cans, slates, canvas - "anything you can paint on," she reported.

Nature and wildlife scenes are her specialty.

"This has been a hobby since I was in high school," she explained. Later she married, raised two children - and painting went on the back burner. Now she's "just picked it up again." When she retires she hopes to paint full time.

It's "very relaxing," she said.

Her little shop bloomed with color, like a tulip patch in spring. Painted saws showed the Luthers Mills covered bridge, wild turkeys and ice fishermen, and red and yellow flowers sprouted on decorative slates and daisies on a gas can. "Welcome spring," declared another slate with a robin. Legs detached from tables showed winter scenes. Outdoors, square painted stepping stones greeted visitors.

Another new stop on the Sleigh Ride was the Rome Presbyterian Education Building, which offered breakfast and lunch besides baked goods and crafts by many area residents, including purses and tote bags, pillows, mittens, caps, Christmas decorations, and a quilt and little wagon being raffled.

Visitor numbers there were actually lower than organizers had hoped for, volunteer Pat Coon admitted, but she added it was steady. (The Education Building is closed to the tour on Sunday.)

"Fifty years old, the metallic age," a hand-painted sign began. It explained: "Silver hair, gold teeth and a lead bottom."

Welcome to the Country Goose. Friday it had lots of funny, cute and pretty signs, paintings, photos and other art pieces for shoppers to look over. A large painting of a man playing guitar hung in the middle of the shop and one of a sax player, on a far wall. "Bye" declared little signs by the door - showing the backsides of a duck, cow and chick.

Sharon Morales, Frank's wife, paints them all and Frank does the photography.

Do you have any pieces of tires lying around? Bring 'em in. "I want to make a sculpture called 'horse power'," made of tire parts," Sharon explained. All shoppers with tire parts this weekend get a free ornament.

Friday also gave some new crafters a chance to sell their wares.

Down on Main Street, LeRaysville, brothers Adam and Bryan Ford were selling handmade wreaths at the Parish House. Bryan's in 10th grade at Northeast and Adam's in eighth.

"Mom and Nan have a 'make-a-wreath day' every year," Bryan explained. They said the boys ought to try it. "It seems to be working out for us," he reported.

The wreaths have real evergreen branches, from trees owned by neighbors Charlie and Flossie Kurz. Adam thought "the smell of fresh pine" made them special.

While the Fords sold wreaths, Mike Johnson was selling handmade wooden pens at Elmo's. The 2012 Towanda High School grad just recently learned the craft from his stepmother's father, and ended up making nearly three dozen to sell.

It "just gets me doing something," he said. He likes crafts - "hope to expand, make more stuff," he said.

Inside, Lori Ahern held two snakes. Toys, that is. They'll be stocking stuffers for her sons.

Lori, from Honesdale, Pa., has relatives in Wyalusing. She was shopping Friday with her sister-in-law Bridget Sharrow, from Catawissa, Pa., and Bridget's daughter, Cassie.

"We love this!" Lori declared. "This is a tradition now."

Bridget likes "just the personalization" of Sleigh Ride goods. She likes the idea of keeping business in family-oriented shops.

Over in Rome, Laurie Phillips and daughter Alyse of Phoenixville, Pa., were shopping at Rainy Day/Colonial Quilts. They have a vacation home near Wysox.

"It's cute!" Laurie said of the tour. "We did it last year, too," Alyse added.

Other shops on the tour are:

- Pickering Winery and Antler Ridge Winery, both near Rome, featuring a variety of wines.

- Studio C, The Glass Shed, Rome, offering glass jewelry, glass "whimzies," wine bottle trays, tea poseys, scarves and handbags.

- Endless Mountains Cabin Maple Syrup, with two sites: a salesroom along Route 187 offering maple products, and the Rex and Janet Russell home on Orwell Hill Road, with handcrafts by many friends and relatives

- Hearthstone, near the Northeast Bradford schools, with dried flowers, wreaths, jewelry, folk art, ornaments, knitted goods, lawn and garden statues, and more.

- LeRaysville Cheese Factory, with cheese, jams, honey and more.

- The Parish House, serving lunch today and featuring crafts on the lower level. The Parish House also will host a craft fair Dec. 1.