So the earth has moved in its revolution around the sun into that phase in which the northern hemisphere begins to receive more and more light each day. The greatest inclination away from the sun (in the north, ~December 20) has passed and we head toward neutrality (everywhere, ~March 20) followed by greatest inclination toward the sun (in the north, ~ June 20) and so on, cycle by cycle.
Dribbled over this and many other cycles and processes are the activities of the earth’s more obvious, though by no means most important, species. There are species of algae that the earth would have a great deal of trouble doing without, that is, should they disappear the consequences would run wide and deep; humans, on the other hand, while showy, could disappear without much more than a wailing of regret from the several species that have come to live close to and off of human excess: black rats, cockroaches, rock doves, human lice and a few others.
It is in this context that the “new year” arrives for me. It actually began several days ago when the sun set at a certain point along a ridgeline on the volcanic plain that is my playground. The next day it sat a tiny, barely noticeable, bit to the right, to the north. For the past half year the sun marched, everyday, left down the ridge. The days became shorter. The temperature dropped. Plants died off. Animal’s behavior changed. And now the sun is coming back. So I accept December 31/January 1 as the “new year;” it is good to give the sun 10 or 11 days to prove its intention to stay the course. But, once tested, it really began 10 days earlier!
Back to the dribbling: we are making a mess of it. Maybe we should begin to do better.