Quadrantids 2012


Kate and I got up at 3:26 a.m. — that’s what the clock said — to see if we could get an eyeful of the Quadrantid meteor shower last night. (Why so late/early? It was after moonset here, and meteor visibility would be better.) We each saw one pretty good streak before crawling back into bed. Of course, I stayed out for half an hour hoping to get one on camera–and in fact the one I saw flashed by while the lens was open, but it was outside the frame. In any case I got a couple of OK star shots, including this one of the Big Dipper, which was virtually overhead; Polaris, the North Star, is just above and to the right of the tree on the left.

A Semi-Blue Post-Christmas

Forgive me a moment of post-holiday wistfulness as I stare into the glare of our sunny, dry January.

Has anyone come up with a word for this “it’s all over” feeling I experience as the page turns on New Year’s Day? It’s not quite sadness. It’s not quite regret. It’s not quite a pining for the holidays, with all their promise and hope, both material and immaterial, to continue. Yet it’s somehow all of these, hardened by the knowledge “Well, that’s that. We won’t be back here again.”

The lights are still hanging on our house and will for a week or two longer (we have to leave them up at the very least so our nephew Max can see them, right?). They’ll come down, though, and I’ll have a pang. Not for the lights themselves, but maybe for what they might represent: a wish to project something joyous and hopeful (and cool) to all our neighbors and all the passers-by. I have one neighbor, up the street and around the corner for us, who seems to deal with the post-holiday mourning period by maintaining one light display after another throughout the whole year. At the very least, he’ll give us Valentine’s, Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving light displays.

Resolution, for the season to come: Find some other small way to project that holiday light to others. And now back to January.

as i stare down the last hour of our extended holiday and watch the lights, lights no longer shining in anticipation of a celebration to come, no longer carrying a promise of something anticipated but still surprising in the deepest shadows of our short days, lights shining out now maybe with a little insistence that the season isn’t, should not be over, lights maybe a little bittersweet because they may shine in place of other hopes and disappointments of the season adn the longer year juste passed.

Balmy New Year, with Crow


Crow on a wire, just around the corner and up the street from us. This particular specimen was one of a pair that was taking a dim view of The Dog’s passing as we headed out on a walk late in the afternoon. And the afternoon: Clear and warm as any New Year’s Day has a right to be. The very unofficial high at our house was 68.5 degrees; the Berkeley record going back to about 1900 is 67, set in 1996 (the National Weather Service reports that at least one East Bay high temperature record was set today: it was 67 in downtown Oakland, breaking the record of 66 set in 1997).

Berkeley Rockin’-Chair Eve

A quiet TV New Year’s Eve with our friends Jill and Piero. Let’s see: the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center, playing some Bernstein and Gershwin. Then “Portandia,” Coldplay on “Austin City Limits” (most frequently heard comments: “what are they singing about” and “all those songs sound the same”) and, God bless us, “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve (with Ryan Seacrest).” Has anybody tried to get Dick Clark together with Lenin on Red Square to see who has more pizzazz? Maybe someone can get Kim Jong-Il to join the party.

We’re back home now, and quiet prevails. Not even a lot of fireworks tonight. Happy New Year to all–have a great 366 days of 2012.