Embrace the New Year’s Spirit

Feeling energized and confident? Good thing. We’ve got work to do.

It seems to be working, and aren’t we glad.
    The great old stories of rising from darkness into light, all synched to the winter solstice of our northern hemisphere, held the day. The battle of myths was lost by the doomsayers who predicted time’s termination on the ancient Mayan calendar’s last day. Now 12/21/12 joins Y2K in the museum of failed prophecies.
    In and on earth, we’re all energized and confident, behaving as if we have indeed been reborn.
    All but the United States Congress, that is.
    This week’s paper — our lucky 999th Bay Weekly — chronicles variations of that spirit.
    For the local “psychedelic tribal world music” band Telesma, January’s rebirth is literal, as you’ll read in Ashley Brotherton’s story of how they’re up and playing after not one but two of their young band suffered cardiac arrest — and recovered.
    If your mailbox is like mine and Bay Gardener Dr. Frank Gouin’s, it’s full of seed catalogues. Full of color and hope, they’re like comic book versions of the great epics of resurrection: Yes, last year’s garden has died and been ploughed under, but this year’s seeds are full of wonder!
    But which to buy from? Dr. Gouin answers your question before you can ask it, walking you through his six favorites.
    As January’s seed catalogs arrive with tantalizing vegetable and flower centerfolds and amorous references to fragrances, tastes and visual extravagances we can scarcely recall from last year, writes Maggie O’Brien, the season of deprivation becomes the season of imagination.
    Nicely said, but don’t imagine that the new year brings Maggie or any other farmer or vintner much cushy time to dream by the fire. Her article, “Winter Wine: In the Winery and the Vineyard, January Races into a New Cycle,” describes the chores demanding to be done before Mother Earth springs into action from her energizing nap. The vines may seem quiescent, but they’re gathering energy for the big push into, in Maggie’s words, a mild April with tight trellises holding cordons exploding with fattened spring buds.
    Meanwhile, with a little human help, the wines are making.
    Our Gregorian calendar puts spring two months out of reach. But artist-naturalist John Taylor’s Chesapeake calendar puts us already one month into Chesapeake Spring. Already there are indications of an awakening, a renewal, despite the extreme cold or deep snow that is to come, he writes in his book of that name. On January 17, in Beverly Beach County Park, from this murk emanated a serene, melodious murmur. The warmth had stirred a troupe of wintering robins to song … pausing from their primary concern of the season, finding enough to eat.
    We humans must run on Chesapeake calendar time, because we rush into the new year building and doing. The Maryland General Assembly, which convened last week, is getting down to work. Along with light stuff like deciding whether the soft-shell crab in a bun should be Maryland’s state sandwich — of course it should — this year’s Assembly will be dealing with weighty issues of safety, sustainability and social justice.
    Gov. Martin O’Malley — who turns 50 on January 18 — is investing the seventh of his eight years in office in shaping the future of our state. In asking the Legislature to regulate military-style assault weapons and ammunition, he’s riding a post-Newtown wave. New York State has just passed the farthest-reaching law in the nation, and President Barack Obama is making a national proposal.
    In asking the Legislature to strike down the death penalty, O’Malley’s pushing us into a debate on social justice, both in the abstract and in the application.
    In asking the Legislature to support offshore wind, he’s asking us to think big and make small sacrifices for a sustainable future.
    We’ll need new year’s energy to face questions like these that make us scratch our heads, plumb our hearts and challenge our values. Questions like these demand that each of us to put democracy to work, to think for ourselves and share our thinking with the men and women we send to Annapolis to represent us.
    Bob Costa and Ed O’Reilly, my delegate and senator, are fine fellows, but this year I don’t want them to do my thinking for me. I hope you’ll join me in telling your elected representatives you expect public forums on this year’s big issues. Then, of course, you’ll have to go and join the debate.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com