Counting Down to The Millennium
As you plan to bring on the millennial bubbly, don't forget some oysters
by M.L. Faunce
Now that we've turned the calendar on the last year of the 20th century, anticipation mounts for the dawning of a new millennium on top of a new century.
While America and the West wrestle with potential Y2K challenges in hopes of avoiding a technological meltdown, non-Christian populations worldwide rest easier. In our preoccupation, we North Americans may forget that not everyone turns the same page on December 31, 1999.
Two-thirds of the world's population, our neighbors in non-Christian countries, will not celebrate the beginning of a new century with us. In China, for example, our year 2000 will be their year 4698. In Muslim countries, next year will be 1420. This revelation may not ease our millennial panic, but it does put things in perspective.
Still, a new millennium on top of a new century on top of another new year is well worth celebrating for the powerful rush that seems to accompany one year's climax and the start of a promising new one. If you woke up with a hangover this January 1, you probably wouldn't have wanted your first sight to be that poster advising: "this is the first day of the rest of your life." Still, a little advance thinking might also be in order for the rest of our lives that begins propitiously on January 1, 2000.
Despite all the hoopla, Maryland won't be counting down the millennium at the State House in Annapolis. The clock ticking away the time until year 2000 and mounted nearby was put in mothballs until a more "suitable" location could be found. Now it's been decided that the giant green scorecard will count down the time to the nearest nanosecond at BWI Airport - at least until April.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, Parisians take life a little less seriously. From the Eiffel Tower, millennium clocks tick toute suite. At the culmination of the countdown, an enormous hatching egg will reveal hundreds of TV screens relaying celebrations from around the world as Parisians in real time launch thousands of plastic fish down the river Seine.
We on Chesapeake Bay may not want to match the wacky Parisians by floating plastic rockfish down the Bay. Returning rockfish to Bay has already had a successful start. Seeding the Bay with millions of oysters could be our way of getting the 21st century off to a good start.
That's a project already begun by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Both groups encourage volunteers to join the effort of replanting, rebuilding and restocking oysters in the Bay. This summertime project is a better way to spend your time than worrying about the Y2K bug.
Chris Dollar of the Foundation reminds us that, while "there's strong tide against us, if each of us does a little bit, we might see some significant changes in the Bay in years to come."
As you make your plans for the big night, think about whether you'd like to have some of those briny bivalves with your bubbly into the next century and beyond. Then find out how you can set some oysters growing.
With our help, the Chesapeake Bay can also celebrate the new year looking forward to the first day of the rest of its healthier life.
And don't forget that the old Chinese proverb goes for things growing in water as well as land: "Sow much, reap much; sow little, reap little."