Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Year

The holidays run together and New Year's Eve seems almost like the tail of Christmas. There's not really any sense of one being the end of the year and the other the beginning. The two of them split time like the gap in an adjustable bracelet, breaking the circle into a measurable distance. We take time out to notice that the number of years since our birth climbs higher. The new year brings into our consciousness the concept of beginning and end apon which we humans build our lives. Despite the fact that every day is the end of the past and the beginning of the future, we chose this one to pay attention and celebrate.

In Eastport there is the usual quirky take on tradition. As on any special occasion, there are goings on. Our gallery opened up for one final evening before closing for the rest of the winter. June and I got the place ready by six, but the streets were mostly empty. I began to have visions of closing and freezing all the food and drink we had for the next occasion. At eight o'clock, though, people started to wander in. Before long the usual party took shape and we found ourselves dragging out more and more chairs to accommodate those who waited out the evening there. At eleven o'clock we all migrated out to Bank Square to watch a huge Maple leaf made of lights descend from the top of the Tides Institute to recognize the arrival of the new year in Canada, one hour ahead of us. Those who knew the words joined in with a recording of "O Canada." A respectable crowd gathered to support our neighbors across the bay.

After about a half hour of warming up at the gallery, we put on our coats and hats and gloves again and ventured out for the main event. A huge clock was projected on the side of the Tides building, counting down the minutes. A large, blue, contstructed fish, trying to be a sardine to symbolize Eastport's past, began to slowly creep downward from the top of the building. There was a ball of lights at its mouth. The crowd pointed and grinned, clapping and cheering. As the clock's second hand headed for midnight, we all shouted the traditional 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, ....... The sardine hit the street at the right moment and a small brass band broke into strains of Auld Lang Zein. Everyone sang and hugged and wished their neighbors happy new year. A sign appeared in the window of the Tides Institute proclaiming 2006. Horns honked. Times Square may be bigger, but certainly no more enthusiastic.

The celebration went on with a party and breakfast at the Sardina Loca, but David, Diana, and I went back to clean up the gallery, drink a toast with Will and Lisa, and go home. It was quintessential Eastport, the greatest place on earth.