Well, since we tackled ‘Christmas’ in our last ‘He Says, She Says’ post, we thought it was only appropriate to take on the New Year in this one. Before I get into that I want to digress for a moment because yesterday was Marcia and my 86th Monthaversary of the day we got married! We went out to see the movie ‘Sherlock Holmes‘ to celebrate, but we also took sime time to walk through both some favourite areas and a new (to us) wooded park: Cuthbert Holmes Park. It’s a 20 ha park and the Colquitz river runs through it. We didn’t see any of the Great Blue Herons that the park is noted for, but we did see some Golden-crowned Kinglets, a few mallards, several Rufous-sided Towhees, and when we stopped to talk to a young couple (and their golden retriever) who were trying to identify the call of a towhee they pointed out a Barred Owl that was sitting quietly in a small Douglas fir tree. Dusk was coming and the owl was getting a few last winks before heading off for the night. Earlier in the day we saw the back of an Anna’s Hummingbird at a feeder, and when s/he took off s/he flew right between us, literally buzzing our ears!
Later that night when we got home Marcia gave me a first edition of ‘There’s No Such Place As Far Away‘ by Richard Bach. If you don’t immediately see the connection, well, you’ll just have to read the book…
Okay, on with the show.
In a few days 2009 will be gone and 2010 will be upon us. The dawn of a new year. I know our Christmas post was a challenging one for Marcia to write, and this one offers a similar challenge for me. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the New Year, particularly New Year’s Eve for a long time. I’ve long said that I prefer the new beginnings offered by each sunrise. It all really started for me about 30 years ago when I was much younger, probably more foolish and engaged to someone for the first time. It’s not worth baring the gory details, but suffice to say that New Year’s Eve that year ended with me getting more than a little tipsy, and our relationship ended the following day. That’s certainly one way to cut ties to the past and bring in a new year, but I don’t recommend it very highly. I must admit it soured the whole idea of New Year’s Eve for me for some years to come. For several years my escape from New Year’s was simply to go to bed early. That didn’t really help much, though, so for several years after that I used to get in the car and drive on New Year’s Eve. I’m not talking about a drive around the block; I’d get in the car and drive for several hours and several hundred kilometres. I’ve done a lot of driving over the years. To a long-distance trucker, a ‘miler’ is someone who’s driven over a million miles. I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet, but I’ve certainly driven over a million kilometres. Somehow ‘kilometrer’ doesn’t have the same ring to it. Driving has always been meditative for me, although I must admit that not many of those kilometres have been spent in bumper-to-bumper rush hour commuting. So, on New Year’s Eve I’d leave the house at 11:00 or so and head off to some pre-determined destination, whether friend or family or hotel room, but the drive would relax me as the highways were quiet in the middle of the night and the clock would count its way down in silence. The ‘moment’ of bringing in the New Year would be lost somewhere in the darkness.
Still, as Harry Chapin wrote in the song ‘W.O.L.D.‘, “Sometimes I’d get this crazy dream that I’d just go off in my car, but you can travel on 10,000 miles and still stay where you are…” I couldn’t outrun my past anymore because I just kept putting it on the passenger seat beside me.
My next plan for dealing with New Year’s was simply to wander off into the woods. The forest has always provided me solace, and remains the only ‘place’ where I feel at ‘home’, although I must add that being with Marcia – wherever – is definitely the best ‘place’ in the world. So, on New Year’s Eve I’d wander out to the woods wherever I was, and if I was in a city at the time I’d find a local wooded park. I never brought a watch with me, but the first year I did that I discovered that even sitting quietly in the trees I could tell when midnight was approaching because all of a sudden everything would get very quiet. The normal sounds of the city would still, even cars would stop on the road, and this silence would completely fill the air. This lasted for only a few moments, and then there would be cars honking and people yelling and fireworks going off. Still, in my immediate surroundings there was only me and the trees and the wind and the snow…
This changed again when Marcia and I got together because we discovered ‘First Night‘ down in Toronto. Originally started in Boston in the 70’s, First Night is a family-oriented, alcohol free celebration of community, culture, art, music… For the first couple of years Toronto’s First Night was held in Front Street area, and then it was moved down to the Harbourfront/ Queen’s Quay area. Eventually it was moved to the Skydome, and we stopped going then because we wanted to be outside. One year we met Ernie Coombs down there, and every year we were treated to stage performances, musical concerts, crowds of happy people, art displays, laughing children and good food. We established a pattern of going to ‘Penelope Restaurant‘ for dinner (especially after, on our second arrival the head waiter not only remembered us from the year before, but pointed out the table where we sat!) Such memories stay. For the 1999/2000 New Year’s Eve we bought a large box of candles from IKEA and handed them out to people we met wherever we walked, instructing them to light their candle at midnight and pray for peace. As Seth said, “A generation that hates war will not bring about peace. Only a generation that loves peace can do that.” There was a huge fireworks celebration that night along the Toronto waterfront, but where we were there was also a small knot of people lighting up the night in their own ways.
When we moved away from Toronto we didn’t find any further ‘First Night’ traditions. When we were lodge managers New Year’s Eve was a busy night for us and our staff, and when we came out to BC what we brought with us was the tradition of the candles. Maybe this year we’ll wander down to the harbour on New Year’s Eve and bring a box of candles with us. Never know who might be around to share the peace.
P.S. As we contemplate the coming year, I think this is worth reading: What Matters Now
Update (Jan 4, 2010): 62 WAYS TO MAKE 2010 YOUR BEST YEAR YET
Follow this link to read Marcia’s View