New Year’s Eve. This year I will not look back at the past nor project into the future. I want to be present in the NOW, and if I am successful, the present, past, and future are contained there, here.
This Is the Way the Year Ends, Weather-wise. Early winter weather has been mild, temperatures into the 60’s. Many days have been rainy. Many have been overcast. A couple have been bone-chillingly damp and drizzly. So ends 2014 in central Piedmont NC.
Reading. Fiction. John Steinbeck, Cup of Gold (1929). This is Steinbeck’s first novel, not included in the Library of America’s collection of his work. It was published by Penguin. It’s the story of buccaneer Henry Morgan and his conquest of Panama. Of note are the poetic, lyrical description of the countryside and people of Wales and winter there, the sea lore presented on a voyage to the Tropics, the brief presentation of lives and deeds of other infamous pirates, the brief history of Panama up until the time of Morgan’s siege (1700[s), and the presentation of Morgan’s death in modernistic language.
Reading. Nonfiction. John Steinbeck, America and Americans (1966). The book is nine short essays interspersed with photographs by forty prominent American photographers. The writing is focused, energetic, and opinionated. Favorite essay: “Paradox and Dream.” The book is not included in the Library of America’s collection. It was published by Bantam.
Christmas Feast with friends, at their house: soup of leeks and parsnips; beet, carrot, and fennel salad; roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, butter beans, bread and butter; cream puff wreath for dessert. Warming drink afterward: Nantucket Sleigh Ride. Good food and friendship.
Quotations from readings of the week:
“All afternoon the wind sifted out of the black Welsh glens, crying notice that Winter was come sliding down over the world from the Pole; and riverward there was the faint moaning of new ice. It was a sad day, a day of gray unrest, of discontent.” (Steinbeck, Cup of Gold)
“Folly and distorted vision are the foundations of greatness.” (Steinbeck, Cup of Gold)
“Running is not the definition of a human life. Neither is checking things off on a list.” (Miriam Pollard, “Home,” Give Us This Day, December, 2014)
“We [Americans] have never sat still for long; we have never been content with a place, a building–or with ourselves.” (Steinbeck, America and Americans)
Happy New Year! I look forward to another year of good things, and I trust they will come your way.