It rains and rains and rains. It has been raining since I returned and from what I saw of the weather while I was gone (on my I-phone weather button), it rained most of the days I was in Mexico. The river is rising although it isn’t yet high enough to give alarm and there were only a few hours yesterday when a soggy sun seeped through the clouds giving a small glimmer of false hope.
It is Saturday and I am home. I have been home now for over three days and I am just beginning to lose the feeling of floating that travel always leaves me. Life is beginning to get back to normal, if such a thing exists and today is the last day of the year, 2011. Yesterday I decided that I would spend this last day in solitude and relative silence. Then, for some unknown reason, I tuned into the radio on I-tunes and chose Classical piano music. It has been playing all day and at the moment I am listening to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. I never listen to music so this is strange, but it is a day of letting things happen by themselves, so be it as it is. I listen to Beethoven, Bach and Lizst and outside it rains. The day progresses; I feel a lively curiosity about the year to come. Will the world, as we know it, end? Has it actually been ending already, bit by bit over the last years?
Well, of course it has. This is the nature of constant change: everything is ending and beginning all the time, in every instant. However, there are stages, structures, forms that override the myriad minor changes going on all the time. The different “ages” had their duration, the Ice Age, the Bronze Age, the Industrial Revolution, the Consumer Society, the Technological Age, the Information Age… each –it would appear- getting shorter and shorter as time accelerates, and now what can we expect? Governments, corporations and financial institutions worldwide are facing the anger and frustration of “Occupy” movements surging up from the grassroots of society and the institutions we have depended on for so long so blindly to care for the greater needs of the many aren’t functioning any more in the interest of the people. And yet… and yet everyone will celebrate tonight. Some are already doing it.
According to BBC, Sydney heralded the New Year with a 15-minute multi-million dollar firework display at two o’clock Salies time (that was already three hours ago). One wonders if the millions couldn’t have been more wisely spent. Salomé for one is not going to appreciate the few firecrackers that go off in Salies, which she will take lying down… under the bed!
Here, the Park Hotel and its Casino are packed with revelers awaiting the moment to toast with champagne. At eleven o’clock a circus is taking several of its prime acts to put on for the gamblers gathered there. Among the stars is a bonobo. The bonobo is a species of small chimpanzee that is known mainly for its use of sex as a social pacifier. When two bonobos are having a spat a third and dominant bonobo will have sex with each one to terminate the argument and then the spatting bonobos will have sex with each other: problem solved. Who can go on fighting after so much sex? Well, the trainer decided to take a female bonobo to the Casino because, he said, the gentlemen gambling will be emitting stress hormones and a male bonobo might feel it his duty to intervene and calm the upset players bonobo-style. Frankly, I think the male bonobo would make for a much more interesting and novel way to start the New Year and might serve to sober up a couple of the more stressed out carousers. I am sorely tempted to go see the circus and especially the bonobo, but I fear it will not be possible with the crowd that is said to be expected tonight.
Instead I think I will sit here and count my blessings. 2011 has been a wonderful year, I couldn’t have wished for more. My first year in France, the writing of my blog flowing as it must, trips to Spain to see friends, buy things and travel; the three weeks spent with my daughter and grandchildren that were so filled with love my chest was bursting; health, good food, a dear friend to have coffee with every morning and special lunches whenever we wish; new acquaintances, even the French language which gives me such a headache but seems to be coming along in spite of my complaints. And there is so much more, the fullness of each moment as I live every day more in the present, the humidity of this area that has made my skin ever so much softer, work over internet that has never failed and the love and companionship of friends from all over the world and from every period of my life that keep turning up and keeping in touch thanks to the Net. The whole world in my tiny apartment in the small town of Salies, and all for me. What wonder!
Epilogue: On the dot of twelve I went downstairs with Salomé and out into the garden. It was still raining; the leaves glistened with wetness under the street lamps and the soft patter of drops on the roof and garden was soothing. A couple of firecrackers went off. I heard the sound; no dazzling lights, no million dollar show, just a couple of crackers making noise. Apart from that, there was nothing different from any other rainy Salies night: The town was quiet, nothing seemed to be moving, no cars, no people, as if the entire population had decided to sleep through the man-made event. The air smelled fresh and clean; I was thankful my warm bed awaited me. 2012 has begun. What do you know!