A year back, Burb Dawg and I headed to camp by a lake in a 1-person (+1-dog) tent in freezing temperatures. I brought a block of the best frozen chicken beer chili in the world, heated it on my camp stove, and indulged in a single Lone Star. At midnight, we watched through the tent flap as fireworks shot up over the lake.
It was one of my fondest New Year's Eves.
This year, I teared up a bit, remembering how just looking out any window of my little house in The Sticks could take my breath away. The views are etched into my brain, and I pull them to mind regularly. If you ever see me with a stupid smile and a faraway gaze, that's probably where I am.
I'm not a fan of driving around the amateurs on New Year's Eve. If you can't drive cross-eyed without plowing into something or somebody, those of us who've mastered the skill wish you'd stay home. So I spent the day putzing about, pondering the evening's possibilities. That afternoon, I did laundry. Dinner might have been simply enough popcorn to feed 10 (with only The Editor and me to quibble over it), but what I craved was mussels marinara. Instead of the fancy champagne drink I learned about from The Republic's fancy monthly magazine, I considered settling for a couple of leftover glasses of the cheap red wine I used to marinate beef for the old folks' lunch earlier this week. And Burb Dawg got a nice long, ball-fetchin' walk at the little league field.
That's where the hawk comes in.
Have I mentioned how stupidly giddy I get when I see a hawk? The seven-year-old Dr. Doolittle fan in me likes to think hawks appear for my benefit. And that doesn't happen in Swamp City too often (unless you live in the Burbs, like I used to...)
The first time I saw this guy, he was soaring way, way overhead as I hung laundry. Hopefully none of my neighbors witnessed my jaw drop and goofy grin. But you can believe I stopped pinnin' washrags for a minute to watch.
I saw him again from the backyard a few weeks later, with The Editor. Just a hawk, brownish and white from way down here, soaring around over Ratville.
Then on the last day of 2011... In between tossing the slime-and-dirt-covered ball for Burb Dawg and keeping a close eye on the chain link fence for the litter of tiny pups who squeeze out from under to say hello, I was enjoying the big flocks of grackles, doves, and parrots (yes, parrots) as they meandered and waddled, squawking and cooing, over the ball fields. It's pretty great to watch them all take off when the Dawg runs near, all flashes and flutters of bright green in the air. The flock, several hundred strong, decided the treetops were a safer perch, at least until our ball throwing took us beyond their realm.
A few minutes later, a loud ruckus arose from behind me, and I turned to see grey, black, and green wings flapping frantically against the overcast backdrop. High over the scattering birds, my hawk friend dipped and dove. Just for me.
I walked home with Burb Dawg as he valiantly carried his jingle bell ball. Then without a smidge of hesitation, I cut off seven inches of my hair.
Happy New Year.