Happy New Year!

Well, 2016 is behind us at last, now on to 2017!

2016 was not my personal favorite year, with my mother passing away, my incurring a significant reduction in income, my finding out I need both knees replaced because of arthritis and then, the final kick in the teeth, my refrigerator failing about an hour after the appliance spares shops closed for the holiday. Come back on Tuesday. Yeah, right.

But there were highs as well. The most uplifting being my becoming a Great Uncle on December 30th. No longer just an uncle, and not a grand uncle, but a Great Uncle. My Dad, of course, goes from being a mere grandfather to a Great Grandfather. And the best bit of this feat is it took no effort on our part at all! In fact, I was fast asleep at the time. That my niece included my mother’s name in the name of her first daughter makes the event all the more special.

January 1st is often a time of reflection, a hope for renewal, a time to draft a list of resolutions that rarely survive into February. It’s a time of contemplation.

When I used to live in , I’d often find myself driving over to the Uffington White Horse where I’d sit on the hillside, gaze across the Vales of the White Horse and wonder (O.K. veg out).

The Uffington White Horse is a curious, stylized, figure. You can’t even see it all from the ground. Only the birds get to see the full shape. It’s been dated to the Bronze Age, perhaps as old as 1000 BC. I wonder what the original carvers of the figure would make of it now, and would make of the world today. Perhaps they’d want to change the design since they can’t have actually seen the whole of the finished work. I do know they wouldn’t have been frustrated that their refrigerator had just quit working.

Perhaps more remarkable is that the figure needs to be scraped roughly every seven years as the grass grows over the chalk. That means it’s been scraped about 430 times over its history. So, long after the original carvers had moved on, other people took it upon themselves to keep the figure visible to the skies. I guess they were anticipating the invention of the airplane, the helicopter, and now the drone, so future people would be able to see what it really looked like.

The white horse featured on the cover of the album ‘English Settlement’ by the Swindon band XTC. The third track on that album was titled, ‘Senses Working Overtime’. Just the other day I heard that very track playing in my local Whole Foods Market, here in good old Katy, Texas. The carvers of the white horse wouldn’t comprehend just how small our world is today. That’s something to contemplate!

View north across the Vale of the White Horse from Uffington

View north across the Vale of the White Horse from Uffington

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