Tuesday, January 01, 2008
A(nother) New Year
Born shortly after the northern hemisphere's winter solstice, on one of the year's darkest days, I'm accustomed to quiet, contemplative birthdays, and my thirtieth was no exception.
After waking, I drove a short distance from my parents' house to a place where I'd several days before noticed a deer carcass dumped in a roadside ditch. My choice of subject intrigued the few motorists that passed. Their cars slowed to a crawl as they peered through rain-streaked windows, concerned eyes moving from the rotting mass of flesh, fur and bone to me, hunched over my camera in the cold drizzle. Hoping to allay any misgiving, I smiled cheerfully and waved.
Later, in fading afternoon light, I stood on the Heron Hope dock and surveyed the marsh and estuary while my father plucked and gutted three mourning dove he shot in a friend's field. The air was humid and chilly. I held open a bag and my father deposited the cleaned bodies of the little birds, one after the other. Some crows called from the southwest, and an impressive flight of black ducks passed overhead on squeaky wings.
After nightfall I shared a meal with my parents and a friend. We discussed presidential candidates, the increasing surreality of American elections, San Francisco's changing neighborhoods, and the ahistorical silliness of transplanting sports franchises without changing the team name. We bled two bottles of merlot before I switched to beer and watched some Dave Chapelle stand-up on television.
Pleasantly buzzed and heavy with holiday treats, I eventually lay down on the couch, another year older, but more happy than I've been in years.
It's a rare, curious thing when one's perception of life transitions from the regular line of past, present and future to an ambiguous cycle of individual moments. This mode is necessarily fleeting, so difficult is it to reconcile with contemporary life. We flip through scrapbooks and retell stories of our youth; the ball drops, the clock counts down and the crowd's vague, anticipatory energy crescendos; a mark is made, the number changed; the owl falls on the quivering chaff.
Ring in the year of the brown rat. I'll also ring in another decade.
Photo credit: Hungry Hyaena, 2007