It doesn’t feel like winter in Sonoma County right now, with glorious 60-degree sunny weather and the hyacinth buds shyly considering peeping out. But as we know the wet is only on pause temporarily, the warmth feels even more sweet.
In winter, even a warmish one, pleasures grow smaller. We sit by the hearth (or far-lesser equivalent, the DVD player) and take in stories, go for walks, clean our homes of old cobwebs, and eat delicious fattening things – an ancient strategy to ensure our survival through the cold dark times of little food.
There are still mushrooms to be had. The other day I enjoyed a breakfast of wildcrafted Elfin Saddles scrambled up in butter with garlic, green onions, eggs and misc herbs, o yum. I found them along the irrigation ditch near my cottage. They’re black and gnarly and easily hidden in the dried grasses, so you’ve got to use sharp eyes to spot them.
And we gather together to dance. I especially love contradancing, both to dance it and to call the dances. I love the tunes too, and someday will get past the mediocre stage of playing musical instruments enough to play for dances. For now, though, it’s all about the feet and the voice and the deep connection to others through shared joy.
Here’s a toast written specially for the contra dance community, delivered at midnight on New Years Eve 2010. The North Bay Country Dance Society asked me to give it. You likely didn’t, but I hope you enjoy it anyway.
A NYE Toast to the Contra Community
by Tina Fields
Gather together – the time is nigh,
The old year it comes to an end.
And we have could certainly done much worse
Than to spend it here, dancing with friends.
The skirts they flew; the notes danced too
As the fiddlers raised a tune –
It’s the dark of the year, but as luck’s with us here,
Our spirits feel bright as in June.
As we think on our lives, and all we’ve survived
We may notice some new aches and pains.
Seems with every year passing there’s some treasure lost,
But the joy that sustains us remains.
So let’s toast to the dance and this circle of joy
And the company gathered here – wow!
Raise your glass high; bid the old year goodbye
And the New Year, come in: Welcome Now!
(Everyone: Welcome Now!)
Bright blessings to you in the coming year. May it bring you wonderful food, friends, and fun.
And may you continue to receive such good wishes, even long after the official giving-new-years-blessings time is past.