Here we are, standing on the edge of the new year -- and here am I in the mostly empty newsroom with a box of Christmas chocolate, thinking about all I hope to do with the time, and writing to you.
Colleagues of mine have commented that New Years is evolving into an odd holiday. Here after the sweep of the winter holidays we get a single day, and this year in the middle of the week. And across the country people talk about taking stock (or simmering it).
Maybe it's a good thing. I don't come across many days on the calendar that tell me to sit still for a minute or to think about what I've been doing, and what I might like to do. I remember Anne Frank talking about this exercise. It was about this time of year when I first read her diary, and not long ago. In a claustrophobic world, where time alone was a luxury she had to fight for, she wrote about taking time, quietly at night, to think over the day, and what she had done with it, and how she felt, and what she might want to think or feel or do tomorrow.
It was her definition of prayer. And I think of her in her hidden room, longing for the darkness when she could stand by a window and take a breath of clean air ... and I think of all the things I do that I never think twice about. Like walking out the door here, tonight.
Before the year sweeps onward again and takes me with it, maybe it's a good thing to find a few navigation points.
So here are a few, old and new, that I am Looking forward to. Let it be a reminder to me to get out and see them first-hand.
The Bloomsday in Williamstown group will read aloud James Joyce's short story, "The Dead" on Jan. 6, at the Water Street Grill at 7 p.m., and all are welcome to listen or to read. Joyce's story, set at a holiday party on Jan. 6, 1914, gives us the contemporary meaning of the word "epiphany" and a sudden wordless understanding.
The Trustees of Reservations tell me that Notchview will rent skis for the cross country ski trails on Route 9 in Windsor. Let the snow stay through February!
The Soweto Gospel Choir will perform in memory of Nelson Mandela on Feb. 14 at 8 p.m. at the Mahaiwe. Gathered from churches and communities in South Africa, they have won two Grammys and an Oscar nomination and have just released their sixth album.
March will bring maple butter and mini corn muffins to Ioka Valley Farm.
In April, Mass MoCA is making my century: Izhar Patkin will host an evening of Agha Shahid Ali's poetry and a celebration of ghazals on April 24. Patkin worked with Ali to transform Ali's poetry into paintings. In Ali's memory, he will read the poetry of the desert -- the ghazal has roots in seventh-century Arabia and in Persia, Ali says in "Call Me Ishmael Tonight," a collection of his own sonnets that has lived on my desk at work for years.
In May, the summer season will begin again, and I am still gathering the early glimpses and gleamings of the season ahead. The trout lilies will bloom in the thousands on the Taconic Crest Trail, and the tree peonies at Naumkeag, and music will return to the terrace at the Mount.
In late June, the orchids bloom in Hawley Bog.
In July, the Clark will re-open after 10 years of renovations,. I have my eye on the Chinese bronzes ...
In early August, the Berkshire Fringe Festival will be in full swing, and I have wanted to see their work for years. They always launch at the highest velocity point of my summer, but I will try.
In September, while the seasonal used bookstores and antiques barns are still open, I'd like to drive to Manchester, straight up Route 7, to see Northshire Books and wander the downtowns, maybe catch the garlic festival in Bennington.
In October, Washington holds their annual jack-o-lantern walk. One of my writers has spoken of it lovingly, and I would love to walk the trails past flaming eyes.
In November, in pine cone season, I want to walk Monument Mountain to gather wreath-making material. The Berkshire Botanical Garden may know where to look.
In December, when the holiday plays return and the solstice bonfire is lit on the Ashfield common, the Lenox contradance will hold its annual winter double-header, dancing from 5 to 11 p.m. and a community potluck dinner -- and last year and this year, the caller has been Nils Friedland, who likes to bring his trombone and join in with the band. I heard him call and play with Perpetual E-Motion -- and they brought a didgeridoo.