Fireworks End. (Maybe.)

I knew I should’ve gone to bed earlier. Young friends had warned us Friday night that Sunday would be the last Big Day of the Chinese lunar new year blast. Another one?! we gasped, mostly for laughs but not entirely.

Bombs away. Happy bombs!

At 5:50 a.m., the first of the bombs went off, not far from our apartment. I was shaken out of sleep a few more times, finally giving up by about eight. There was subdued grumbling in apartment 902, and really, it wasn’t nearly so intrusive as other Big Days had been, certainly nothing like “xiao nian” (“little year”, a week before the New Year), the New Year’s eve and day themselves, or “wu tian five days later. The above links are to irritated pieces I wrote in the midst or aftermath of this or that bombardment.

But if I had had a little more detachment, a touch more grace, I might have also written something like what follows.

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Grand and Random Musings

I could see it coming down the tracks from a long way away. I’d been preparing for it. But like most of you, I’ll continue writing and thinking in a way that is SO last year. Yup, it’s 2008, though I’ll likely continue to mark ’07 on my cheques. Beyond that, though, I can muse randomly about what 2007 was and what its successor might be.

First, all the blessings and possibilities of the New Gregorian Year to you and your precious crew. (Facebook “friends” don’t count.) As a member of the Baha’i community, I have learned to get more stoked about the new year, the New Day, at the spring equinox in March. It has more sun, for one thing, and the promise of still longer and warmer days not far off. Spring has become my season of hopeful resolution, and the melting and greening give me all the symbolic reinforcement I need for my own mid-life reloading.

But I still like to do a little reflective burrowing in this season, too. Long years in school have made late December a sacred time, even apart from herald angels and good Christian news and renewals. Retreat. Restoration. Stock-taking. A tallying of accounts. What’s good? What needs bettering? Where’ve I been? Where’m I headed? (Did I ask for directions?) I break out the new planner book, and look back at the old one for clues and leftovers. I try to see my life in terms other than ‘what NOW’ and ‘what didn’t I do yesterday’, not to mention the vague and recurring suspicion that I do have other dreams beyond laundry and e-mail maintenance. And so it goes. I love the slightest hint of a fresh start.

They could sure use that in Pakistan. It seems that the Christmas break always brings tragic news from abroad, which perhaps is intensified and given a longer look because of the rampant peace and relative contentment that most people in our part of the world can appreciate, and often don’t. Kenya is now boiling over because of election strife. So while I revel in my good fortune and the chance to reflect upon my deeds, hopes and learnings, there is no shortage of reminders that I should do this with a thought for the larger world I live in. I have a lot to learn about that; a taste for Thai, Indian, Persian and east-African cooking does not, unfortunately, quite qualify me for planetary citizenship. (Gotta be a few global Brownie points in there somewhere, though, dontcha think?)

I found out on New Year’s, thanks to a favourite Web log, that January 1, 2008 also marked the bicentennial of the North American abolition in transporting slaves across the Atlantic. The “peculiar institution” persisted in the U.S. for decades more, of course, but this was a big step. So, happy that! Let’s hope, too, while on the subject of racial harmony and reconciliation, that the banks of the Grand River — where my small-town, southern Ontario roots share soil with earlier arrivals, the Iroquois peoples of the Six Nations — find a renewed sense of brother-and-sisterhood. Whether we’re thinking locally or globally, there’s one human race and one earth. We’ve all got to live together. And that includes my little family, and yours.

When we got back from our Haliburton/Haldimand holiday swing, my backyard ice rink was in sad but snow-muffled shape. On New Year’s Day, it got buried deeper, a sweet and flaky dump that went on and on. But then the scraping and pitching (and back spasms) began, followed immediately by a one-man bucket brigade from the basement. (I’d frozen the outside hose pipe, like a doofus, meaning that I had been flooding our basement bedroom while I resurfaced the rink.) More weight-lifting for the ol’ dude, and lots of repairs, but the rink is strong again. As I write this, a briefly homeward son (Dave, from studies at McGill) is playing his little brother Sam in a goofy, chatty game of 1 on 1 hockey. The sun is smiling, and so am I.

Blessings. Peace. May there be growth and contentment chez vous. Hope you’re looking forward, and smiling, too.