2012 Bison Books paperback edition

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bye Bye Old Year, Hello New


Well, that was 2010. 

The last night of it was spent at a party at the neighbor's house down the road here in rural Virginia. The clock was set two hours back so that we could celebrate midnight at 10 p.m. (the tradition started when the children in the group were small; now they're in high school, but we still do it.) Stouffer's lasagne cooking away in the oven. Tons of corn chips. A sausage dip in the slow cooker that, we all agreed, looked bad but tasted good. Cheap red wine. Beer.

This year I went to the Dollar Store and bought out their selection of Mardi Gras-style beads. Everybody, even the dogs, got slung with green, red, and blue strands. The cats were upstairs, as usual, under the beds.

The day before, the few other nearby neighbors, who are either not invited or choose, always, not to come, are warned that there will be fireworks at 10 on New Year's Eve. "The cheesiest fireworks display ever," as it's fondly called, by us, anyway. The guys are really into the fireworks and look forward to them all year. The usual supplier was sick, so a new source had to be found -- a process meticulously recounted to a rapt audience of us. 

A scaffold is set up in the road (it's a cul de sac) with Roman candles, sparklers, tubes, mines, shells -- the works -- lined up in a row on the wooden platform. One year the Roman candles got out of hand and the men had to run for cover -- the incident now a beloved part of our oral history. The women and children gather several feet away, ready to scream with feigned fear and real delight as the crackles, pops, and sizzles begin and the men jump around waving their barbecue lighters.

Last night the sky was crystal clear -- Orion is big right now -- and the air not too cold. At the stroke of "midnight," the first round of firecrackers was lighted. Wow! Ooooh! Wow, again! Yay! Then, like big professional fireworks, just when we spectators thought it was all over, came the grande finale. OMG! Fabulous.

Welcome, 2011.