We went walking up the River Trym, then followed the Hazel Brook up the gorge into Blaise Castle. Robins sang in the woods; there was a big group of woodpigeons sorting their way through the leaf litter by the stream; high in the canopy, a mistle thrush was singing. I like the song of the mistle thrush; clear, austere and far-carrying, a bit Bach to the song thrush’s Mozart. I think of it as a song of hope for better days soon, a good looking-out-of-winter song. Housman described it well
…So braver notes the storm-cock sings
To start the rusted wheel of things
And brutes in field and brutes in pen
Leap that the world goes round again.
The twilight was already falling as we dropped back down the valley.
At midnight, I was up on the roof, watching fireworks explode all across the city, as more and more Chinese lanterns took to the air and ascended through the increasingly milky glow of the sky. It’s the first New Year that I’ve seen these in action; they’ve really, er, taken off. It was quite a sight.
It was on New Year’s Eve in 2001 that I joined in the festivities presenting as female among my friends for the first time. It was a good night, generally, though a small child kept following me round the party chanting ‘lady Dru, lady Dru’. There was much social kissing at midnight, and some mildly unpleasant bloke looked a bit fearful and alarmed at the thought that I might kiss him – “Er, I don’t think I’m quite ready for that…” he said. “No worries; you’re entirely safe from this quarter,” I thought…
…and at dawn on New Year’s Day, I was up on the roof again, watching the sun rise on a frosty clear day, and thinking, “This is the year it happens”.
I was right, too.
Not that it’s stopped happening, but there was something about that first year. Life was about as intense as it could get. Mostly in a very good way.
Happy New Year!