Many of us spend the last couple of days of the year preparing to welcome, or hail the New Year. We raise a glass to forthcoming Halcyon days, times of happiness and prosperity.
GHL on a Hobie Adventure Island, Pettasquamscutt Lake, RI
Most of us harbor vivid imaginations, left overs from childhood when imagination and curiosity were the vital ingredients of happiness. Sailors of yore imagined a blissful land where there is perpetual mirth centered by a fiddle that never stops playing for sailors who never tire of dancing. This nautical nirvana known as Fiddler’s Green has as many longitude and latitude locations as there are dreaming sailors. Time spent in Fiddler’s Green are halcyon days, calm and ruffled times when thoughts about work are forgotten and ways to relax and play are remembered and practiced.
Photo courtesy of Fiddler’s Green in Orlando
Few among us have ever been to sea long enough to yearn for a landfall that rivals paradise, yet most can imagine a Fiddler’s Green where dreams are possible, the music doesn’t stop and dancers never tire.
New Year’s Eve is a great time to envision places to visit, quests to test our mettle, and adventures to chart. These are waypoints on the upcoming voyage around the sun. Some waypoints will be simple ports of call to replenish our stock, fix what’s broken, and take refuge from storms. Others waypoints will fuel our desire for more time and resources to raise the sails, savor the sunshine, shoulder through waves, and soar with the winds.
Solana Beach, a true Fiddler’s Green
And so it is we leave 2013 astern. My wish is that we all may sail our imaginations to Fiddler’s Green. Hail the 2014 New Year!
This is the first time all of the Levesques, who number a crew of 12, will be under one roof for Christmas. George and I are both the oldest members of our respective families. Age has it’s graces and its vices. Here’s how you know that Santa’s been coming down your chimney since mid 20th century. Things change and stay the same, and we all adapt or just go nuts, no not nuts – the kids are allergic and you’ll spend Christmas Day alone while they are at the ER. You have a lot frequent sky miles under the sleigh when:
- The kids are coming from California on Christmas Eve. Your son is a physician who specializes in diseases of the gut. Your daughter in law is a physician who specializes in birthing babies. They have two little girls, ages four and one. To prepare for their visit you:
- Buy only organic food because they are from California and only eat brocolli, sprouted things, and organic food stuffs crafted from soy beans.
- Consider bottles of hand sanitizer as room accessories.
- Employ the cleaning ladies to work an extra shift to decontaminate all rooms from normal living flora and fauna.
- Vacuum the dog.
- Take a magic marker and write, Organic very boldly on everything in the pantry.
- Black out the Born on and Dead By dates on all items in the fridge with dates prior to the 2013 America’s Cup races.
- Hide all nut infused foods behind the organic things in the way back highest shelf of the pantry so you can swear solidarity to the grandkids’ peanut allergies and be assured your son in law who is severely allergic to legumes considers you his favorite in-laws and not potential killers.
- Clean all vents etc in their hypo allergic bedroom and leave a note that nobody has slept on those “new” pillows except them. That night you and your spouse had a tiff and you slept in there is frankly, none of their business.
- Your daughter and son in law are flying in on Christmas Day so you:
- Assure her you’ll just serve crackers and cheese Christmas Eve and save the shrimp, gifts, and good wine until they arrive.
- Marvel that her bedroom still is decorated with spring break photos from a decade ago and her wedding dress that barely fits in the little space you left it from your spring wardrobe in her “old” closet.
- Change the sheets because nobody’s slept there since the last time they visited. Then sit for ten minutes trying to figure out when that was and why the room still looks like it did when she left for college, not law school — college.
- Spend three hours running around St. Louis county picking up a “couple” of things she really wanted for Christmas (because you inadvertently, as she patiently reminded you, did not keep in mind as you shopped that she does not have children, your grandchildren and she is your only daughter and surely she should have a little something special because she is flying all the way home even if she doesn’t need two car seats for the kids at the airport).
- Your middle son, wife and two grand daughters live in town. So you spend the weekend babysitting and forgetting about the Do Lists. You make cookie dough and don’t bake it so the eldest doesn’t get jealous of the one year old who “helped”. Then you take it out of the fridge the next day and marvel that it was only 28 hours later, the directions said it would keep for 24 hours, and it’s as hard as a rock. So, you:
- Remember both your son and daughter are anal about clean refrigerators, so you take everything out, clean the shelves and organize it by genre – even the doors and put in fresh Baking Soda and circle the very fresh Born on Date in a red Sharpie so they know you are up to date.
- Call your best friends who make a gazillion dozen cookies and barter for a couple of dozen.
- Decide “less is more” as far as the tiny village ornaments that are usually displayed on tables because both one year old grand daughters are avid climbers and cheek pocket horders.
- You put the expensive scotch behind the stuff you got cheap in the Virgin Islands Duty Free shop.
- You get sort of weepy listening to Christmas carols and remember how your Mom and you sang out of tune to your favorites. You want to call her and sing again, but as she promised, there are no phones in heaven. Smile, sing with her memory and wipe your nose on the sleeve of the grungy Santa swinging on an anchor sweatshirt you wore to do errands for 7 hours, organize the pantry and decontaminate the fridge.
- You can’t remember the secret ingredient of your father’s popcorn balls. You sit a moment, visualize him in his robe, his eyes glistening as you opened your much dreamed of most wanted Christmas gift in the whole world. Your heart feels like bursting when the recipe comes clicking into focus and your grin smunches freckles on either side of your dimples.
- You count the wine, divide by 8 adults and realize there are enough grapes for all. The spirits are abundant enough to carry us through this holiest of nights.
- Hear your favorite carol on Pandora and whisper “Thank You” to God, your parents, grandparents. family, and friends for all the blessings that have afforded you a wonderful life. Then pour a toast from the good stuff, toast to the memories of those who are celebrating in heaven (including my Aunt Pat who arrived there just in time the other day for the highest holiday of the realm) and wish everyone reading your blog the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of new years.
- Thank the kids for wanting to come home for the holidays. It makes the year.
Sound of Deep Sleep
It’s not what you hear that matters, its how you listen. Some of us hear different drummers and step to a beat heard only in our own heads. Do you hear what I hear? For the past couple of weeks, when all is quiet, my ears resonate with a high-pitched whine. It’s not as loud or annoying as a backyard full of circadas or a bullfrog in heat. It gives me a chance to think of other sounds of the season; carols, snow, UPS trucks, firelogs, and Salvation Army bells. Jingles.
Softly – Like Pachabel’s Canon
The winds have joined forces with the cold and hammer the sail halyards against the masts. It’s a hallow sound as the sails are stored in darkened basement closets to wait out winter. Chilly gusts chaffe the arthritic joints of trees that are not likely survive the season. We’ll warm our hands with mugs of hot chocolate, pull on thick socks, toss another log on the fire, and listen to the silence of winter nights. Pa rum pa pum pum.
Every month has a particularly strong grip on at least one of the human senses. March smells like worms – it’s nature’s signal that the ground is warming. July tastes hot and sticky. October’s vivid foliage sears retinas. November envelops us in the warm touch of family and friends. December saturates our auditory senses with hustle, bustle, voices silenced long ago, whispering angel wings, and familiar carols. Ding, dong.
I like the sound of the word /tin’ nuh tus/. I know it will quiet down as my sinuses heal so there’s no reason to alter my pace for the long run. My ears are tuned to catch the cacophony of kindergarteners belting out their first Christmas concert and the scrunch of lightly frosted snow beneath my boots. The older I am lucky enough to grow, the more I relish listening to nature and people. I think this is why the last month of the year holds such a lock on our ears. There is much to be heard and enjoy – if you just take the time to listen. Tidings of comfort and joy.
The magic’s in the music, and
the music’s in you.