Happy New Year to everyone. The year that we just used up certainly brought some good moments and some not so happy ones. I hope all of you have many positive experiences in 2016 and that the rough waters are balanced by much smooth sailing. As the days once again begin to lengthen I find that the bright moonlit nights appear to beckon me outdoors and enjoy the winter.
The clear moonlit night of Christmas lit up a wonderful winter landscape along Loon Lake Road and surely no one could complain about dark nights with brightness like that. Sunny cold days are filled with sparkling ice crystals and snowflakes keep floating down to ensure a good winter atmosphere.
Ice has formed on Loon Lake and people are busy clearing areas for skating and other outdoor fun on ice. Hopefully the conditions will remain good for establishing a solid ice covering for lots of use over the coming months.
The Christmas moon was called the “cool” moon whereas the January moon is known as the “wolf” moon. The First Nations peoples had names for all the moons and these names I have used are from the Algonquin tribes – although names varied from one group to another. The names tended to describe some aspect of living conditions during that moon period and are more meaningful than the names we use for the months of the year. Few Canadians know where the name “December” came from or who Janus was, but most would understand why a moon at this time of the year was called the “wolf” moon.
As December ended I received a telephone call stating that my property was under investigation by Canada Revenue Agency and Canada Emergency Preparedness and that I should immediately call their centre at a given number.
Instead I immediately called the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre, but all the lines were busy. I then reported the call to the local RCMP. Anyone receiving such calls should not be alarmed; it is a scam to get your money. It is best NOT to call the number given but do call the Canadian Government Anti Fraud Centre at 1 888 495 8501 and also report it to the local RCMP.
At this time there are so many different scams either by phone or computer that the centre’s lines are often overly busy. When I did get through the staff person was very helpful and informative. Rural residents with landlines are now getting more of these calls as the scammers are using the phone books to get the numbers to call. The telephone companies could do something about these calls if more pressure was put on them, however at this time they are making money by facilitating the calls.
A neighbour gave me a very fine piece of needlework as a gift and it got me thinking about a recent editorial in The Journal about all the fine skills and talents hidden in our local folks. It is so true that we are surrounded by talented people who can do great things but are very humble about their skills. I see examples of fine woodworking, furniture building, quilting, welded metal art, fused glass, watercolour paintings, photography and other arts and crafts. Playing a musical instrument and singing give pleasure all around.
One set of skills that also fascinate me is when people have the ability look at something – like a piece of machinery or equipment that is broken – and can quite quickly repair it, even going so far as making a new part out of some old cast off piece, so that it works better than ever. Creativity and inventiveness were an important part of the success of early settlers and that spirit and attitude continue in our local folk, and in my opinion we should celebrate these qualities more and support local crafters. Most people I know would rather have a gift I purchased at a local craft market than something from a big box store.
Some years ago some writer came up with the thesis that it took about 10,000 hours of practise to master a skill or artistic endeavour. I certainly appreciate how much practise does help “make perfect”, even in baking a good loaf of bread. However, something in the line of inclination, talent and innate skills also helps. Sometimes necessity serves as a great inspiration to hone a skill or develop a latent talent. Surely, living on the land taught self reliance and the need to try one’s hand at many things. And it seems still that folks attracted to rural living also have many hidden talents and a “here’s at it” attitude towards trying to do things for themselves.
In the case of the needlework gift, I know I would never be able to do those fine stitches as my fingers just don’t work that way and I don’t have the patience for it. There is truth in some of those old saying about “having an ear for music” or an “eye for painting”. Sure there have been deaf musicians, Beethoven is probably the most famous, and they clearly show that there are other skills and talents that are important in making music. In fact music is such a powerful phenomenon that it is probably the artistic endeavour that is approached and developed in the widest variety of ways by humans around the world. It is also the art form that serves best to touch and inspire people, even those who otherwise are not interested in art.
As the old year ends and a new one is sampled, it is traditional to make a resolution or two to be better at something in the new year. This year my resolution is to cut way back on the use of plastic bags of all sorts and shapes. I have been washing and reusing food quality plastic bags but now I want to stop using them altogether. I have read that plastic NEVER is gone – it just disintegrates into smaller and smaller pieces which then getting into the food of small animals and fish and cause problems.
Some years ago I saw a video of an invention whereby one could take clean plastic bags and wrappers and put them into a machine and it would covert the plastic to gas (I think it was kerosene) which could then be used. I wonder whatever happened to that invention. My biggest challenge is to find an alternative way to freeze vegetables and fruit. Glass containers work well in the fridge for leftovers, but glass banging around in a freezer is not good. I guess it is time to become creative.
All the best in 2016 everyone!