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{ 123 } Now here’s a story I heard tell. It was a dusk and dawn like any other. Just a date in the diary. It was the New Year. Every human culture celebrates the end of one annual cycle, the beginning of the next. We sing, drink, tell stories, give presents. We offer money to bring good fortune; we make sacrifices. World cities splash light on midnight skies, a fortune burned on fireworks. As time passes, Places change. We chant; Older and outworn, All dust and closer to death. We wonder: What does the future look like? And anyway, why should we worry? Some cultures have developed a sense that the passing of time must bring progress . The next year will bring innovation and improvements, greater wealth, better things. Others believe more in a greater circularity of time, where now, whenever that is, is best. Others still hope that post-death will bring paths to heavens rather than hell. Animals and birds migrate each year, others are new or recent arrivals. Some are seen as good, others bad. The egret came and stayed, so did the crayfish. Pests and diseases come or grow in number, and all are bad. Some species have disappeared almost completely, the red squirrel and elm, others are on the rise, the otter and buzzard. The honeybee struggled for years and recovered slightly; some bumblebees thrive. The future will bring heightened threats, particularly if climate changes much. There will be solutions too, people getting out more, being in nature, creating ceremonies and rituals that celebrate connections with both places and community . Aldo Leopold wrote in “The Land Ethic,” “To sum up: a system of conservation CROSSING THE NEW YEAR { 124 }     The East Country based solely on economic self-interest is hopelessly lopsided.” A new ethic will help us think of the economy as the environment. Materialism has created dualisms: have and have-not. Yet we can appreciate something without having it: a view, birdsong, the perfume of flowers, the rustle of leaves, the laugh of children. The world has had enough. Go slower. There is a single white cloud in the sky. Sometime later, it is still there, and under the poplars rustle with the sound of a rushing river. An old farm ethic from the east country states you should live as if tomorrow were your last, but farm the land as if you will live forever. Nature will survive us all. How it looks depends on our choices, our responsibilities. This is it, said Seamus Heaney. There is no next-time-round. The New Year will be the same. The New Year will be different. ...


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MARC Record
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