New Year’s Day: Toward the Unknown


The year’s doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
                                        ~ January First, Octavio Paz, trans. Elizabeth Bishop


This part of Cape Cod, past the elbow–but before the wrist joint—has yet to see a hard frost this winter. The arugula in our garden is green and edible, though most of it has bolted and  white flowers dot the tops of each green plant. Two intrepid calendula (pot marigold) bloom in the center of the garden—I find a tiny slug chewing away at one slender petal, flick him off, and bring the blooms inside to grace the dinner table. Leathery oak leaves the size of dinner plates line the crushed stone driveway and cluster around the stems of dead perennials: coreopsis, gaillardia,echinacea, rudbeckia. The pink heather blooms profusely on the hill behind the cottage. The calendar insists it’s early winter, but it looks more like early autumn on this  oddly warm year in new England.

Temperatures hover in the mid-forties this morning. An overactive squirrel runs up and down the branches of the enormous rhododendron that marks the property line.  Our neighbors have drained their pipes, brought in the picnic table and the hammock, and sealed up the house for winter.

All the restaurants in town except for the fancy French bistro are closed until early March except for the one that might–might–open sooner. To celebrate New Year’s Eve, we reheated meatballs and gravy we brought with us—always better the second evening— and boiled up some thin spaghetti. We added some  rustic olive bread and roasted asparagus, and so what if it’s from Peru? A fine bottle of Valpolicella made it a festive meal.

We toasted to the New Year, and watched a remastered La Peau Douce, a 1964 Truffaut movie I somehow missed in my mission years ago, to see every film Truffaut made. It was darker than I expected. Tonight, Day for Night (1973). An interesting way to begin the New Year, screening films from forty and fifty years ago, all the actors and the director now long dead. Even the stunningly beautiful Francoise Dorleac, older sister of Catherine Deneuve, who would have been only seventy-three, had she not crashed her Renault 10 into  a signpost in 1967.

It’s a perfect day for a walk in the white cedar swamp, reading, and writing, a quiet time before the New Year kicks in hard in three days, Monday morning traffic, and breaking the habit of writing 2015 on paper checks. As my high school friend Francine always says, Onward.




3 thoughts on “New Year’s Day: Toward the Unknown

  1. The best line in DAY FOR NIGHT: I can understand leaving a man for a movie, but I would never leave a movie for a man.


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