The itch starts sometime in November, and by New Year’s Day it’s a full-blown rash. The only way I can scratch this itch is to head for the water…. My itch is for those languid summer days paddling around lovely waters and quiet marshes. My escape to Long Lake is six months away, but today, the first day of 2009, I headed for the beach — or at least my favorite summer slivers of sand just a few yards wide on some lower Potomac tributaries. Of course, I left my trusty kayak safely in the garage, taking only my camera and gloves to capture the isolated frozen beach of Chapel Point State Park in Port Tobacco (below). Just a few months ago, fishermen and swimmers filled this scene. They will be back!
Looking for a little wildlife, I left Chapel Point and headed to Friendship Landing on the Nanjemoy, and there was a lone blue heron braving the frigid waters.
We shared some long moments of silent contemplation of each other before both were startled by a motor … sure enough, the day proved mild enough for a father and son to put in their small boat at the landing and head out for a day on the river.
My friend, the heron, took off, obviously bothered by any human intrusion. I headed for home secure in the knowledge that soon these river banks will bloom again, the heron and eagles and ospreys will abound, along with the boaters and fishing families, and my kayak can feel liberated from its gloomy perch on sawhorses in the garage.
Spring is coming!
New Year’s Day 2009 marks the opportunity for liberation in many ways. A new U.S. president will soon take office, a man elected on a wave of huge expectations, and high hopes for real change. On New Year’s Day 2008, before the primary season officially began, I wrote this about our collective hopes for our new leader:
“Our task is nothing less than finding the leader who can re-establish balance and common sense in this dangerous world, someone who can lead us back toward a more peaceful civilization while not relenting on the strength that is necessary sometimes to maintain the peace. We need a leader who can inject a great dose of confidence into economic markets to slow the march toward recession. This leader must also have the talent to forge bipartisan solutions to the domestic agenda that has been so sorely neglected for such a long time: genuine health care reform, better care for those who live in poverty, real support for education (not impossible mandates, but actual support for schools who need support the most). We need a leader who has the courage to say that the civil rights agenda remains far from completion, and who will give voice to our common heritage as a nation of immigrants on behalf of those who are still seeking the American Dream today.”
Is Barack Obama such a leader? Time will only tell. He takes office in a time of extraordinary global challenges — fresh violence in the Middle East, the protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continuing threats of terrorism, the self-inflicted wounds of the financial catastrophes that began in this nation and now sweeping through every nation. Everyone wants a piece of Obama, and that is his appeal, and that is a great worry. No single human being can possibly absorb all of this expectation and create all of the necessary change alone. Are we truly willing to work together as a nation, forget about partisan disputes, set aside rigid absolutes, bring our collective talent to bear on finding rational, humane and effective remedies for the great problems we face? Cooperation and support is what the new president needs most from all citizens — not only those who voted for him, but all citizens.
Spring is coming. The best hope we can all have for 2009 is that the Obama Administration will be able to launch itself with a minimum of fuss (the Illinois debacle notwithstanding!) and maximum good will at home and abroad. We’d have a truly remarkable year if, by this time next year, we can celebrate the return of American troops from Iraq, stabilization if not improvement of the markets and financial indices, and restoration of the essential optimistic spirit of Americans to prevail over difficult times.
Spring is coming! Happy New Year!