Bay Reflection

Vol. 8, No. 1
January 6-12, 2000
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A Prayer for the New Millennium
by Audrey Y. Scharmen

There is a young soul in this worn old receptacle. Whoever is in charge of such things: Give it to a golden child with a lean tall barefoot mother in a flowered dimity dress. A woman with Nordic eyes and sun-bleached hair and a lilting laugh.

Leave them a dusty country road where blue morning glories and sunflowers embrace. A road that leads through riverside fields where plump sweet potatoes lie deep in rich black soil, waiting to be dug.

Leave a cottonwood to be scaled and a rippling waist-high sea of grass, brimming with meadowlarks, to explore beneath the wide clean sky where crows converse.

Leave a vintage green mason jar to fill with autumn-drowsy crickets and the last of summer’s grasshoppers for fishermen on the riverbank who will pay a penny for each.

Leave arpeggios of redwings amid fuzzy cattails in the backwater where mother and child primly tuck up their skirts and wade happily hand in hand.

Leave some ripe black walnuts to be carried home with late roses and sweet potatoes bundled in folds of dimity.

Leave then such simple precious things, that they may begin again.

Audrey Scharmen reflects from the shores of Mills Creek, near Solomons.

The Measure of Time ~ by Pat Piper

This is an extraordinary moment. The three consecutive zeros make it so. Otherwise, what happened at midnight on Friday is just another midnight; just another New Year; just another countdown to another second of which we’ve never before been a part.

Of course, it’s all just a bunch of numbers. The system of 365 days in a year didn’t even begin until the seventh century so if you want to step into the true 21st century, well, it might have happened last Ground Hog Day or it may not be here for another three years.

But we need to be able to measure. That’s the way it’s been since Day One, whenever that was. On Friday night, we hit one of those longer marks on our measuring stick.

It makes one wonder what the people on December 31, 2999 will be thinking about us, as they look back and laugh and tell each other, “despite our problems, at least we’re better off than those from the Dark Ages.” Certainly there will be dusty video tapes telling the story of 1999. They’ll most likely be dubbed into a new format, something that brings the historic characters like Ricky Martin or Jerry Springer or Rosie O’Donnell into the living room where one can sit right in front of them or to the side of them and watch them talk about these times. But what will these future readers learn about who we are?

Well, we try every year, sometimes every day, to answer that question. Our quality of life is getting better in a material way. We have a four-stroke outboard, we have GPS, cell phones, the Redskins are entertaining if not good while the Eagles (the band, not the team) are both good and entertaining.

But amid all these ‘things’ is concern about the soul. We’re not sure if owning a handgun is a right or an intent to hide a weapon. We’re worried about our children being hit over the head with pornography and violence by this thing called television, and we’re not sure if it’s the cause or the result. We worry about 50-percent turnouts to vote for the most powerful office in the world. We worry about our communities becoming “Seven-11’ed” or “Safeway’d” so that every town looks the same as the other town. We worry about the center — of our home and of our self.

And this is a good thing. Because as we step into the next year and century and begin the very millennium that readers a thousand years from now will watch come to an end, our morning on January 1 included looking at Herring Bay and saying “wow.” Were we not to say that word, then we wouldn’t care about the rest of it. We wouldn’t care about the soul.

If this newspaper can be a way to reach across years and generations, we ask that you in the 22nd century be able to say “wow” every time you look at the water.

After that, everything else is really just a bunch of numbers.

Pat Piper looks out over Herring Bay from Rosehaven.

Copyright 2000
New Bay Times Weekly