The year speeds toward its close. Tonight we ate Persian rice-and-beef meatballs that I'd made last night (flavored with dill, parsley, saffron, and onion, in a lime-and-tomato broth) and around 5:00 pm, I walked up to the market to buy yogurt for a salad, because we had run out. I bought bread, yogurt and some labneh, and then, because it was a lovely night, clear and cold, walked on to the bank and back down the opposite side of the street, while the last shoppers finished their purchases and the store-keepers began shutting down their shops for the night. The dark blue and white Christmas lights were still lovely on the evergreen street trees, and seasonal music played on loudspeakers along the sidewalk. In the windows, mannequins no longer wore red sweaters and furry boots, but rather black or gold or dark blue sparkly tops, optimistically accented by shiny jewelry, bare shoulders, and high heels. No one seemed to be shopping for clothes, though; the longest lines were inside the SAQ*.
I went as far as rue Brébeuf, and as I crossed the street to head back toward home, a woman was crossing in the other direction with a small boy. As we passed I saw that his face was turned toward the sky, and his eyes pressed tightly shut, trying perhaps, to see what the busy street felt like without sight. His mother didn't seem to notice, but dragged him along by one hand.
I remembered doing that as a child, after discovering one sense could be heightened by suppressing another. Now, the thought makes me shiver: too many people I see every day are impaired in one way or another. I thought about the happy naivete of youth, the melancholy knowledge that comes with years, the way that wisdom gradually substitutes itself in place of idealistic hope -- and the choice to greet the New Year, in spite of it all, with eyes wide open.
One of the best things about being part of this online community is meeting other people who grapple with similar issues. Here are a few links to recent posts by people you may not have read, who regularly have something worthwhile to say.
- Kat wonders about life and death, blood, rain, earth, and the edges of things
- New Zealand photographer and writer Tony Bridge tells us what he's grateful for (scroll WAY down the page - this link works better in Explorer)
- Jim Murdoch writes amusingly and honestly about depression, and hopes we all made it through the holidays
- Miguel is pleasantly surprised by an encounter with American immigration during the Christmas holidays
- And at Redemption Shoes, a Lost Ritual is remembered, causing me to pause on the faded, floral-carpeted stairs of my own childhood, looking at the bookcase where the row of Victorian glass Santa-ornaments perch in front of evergreen boughs, and two leather straps of heavy sleigh bells hang on the stained-glass panels of the front doors, knowing that this night Christmas would be ushered in with a glittering tree and an open house full of happy adults and children...no, it has never been possible to recreate this either.
Nevertheless, we are a real community, unable to lift a glass together but quite capable of cheer, encouragement, laughter and caring. May the New Year be a good one for you, and a happier and more hopeful one for the earth and its people.
*provincial liquor store