Sunday, 30 December 2007

This passage is from Chapter Fifteen of The Blue Cabin:-

“Our first Christmas was spent with my mother on the mainland, and we returned to Islandmore in the dying hours of the old year to prepare our customary welcome for the spirits of the new. Some years ago we borrowed an ancient and amiable tradition from the Pueblos of New Mexico, which involves lighting a fire at midnight as a guiding beacon for the benign spirits of the coming year. We have performed this simple ceremony ever since and of course this time it seemed to hold a special significance for us. By torchlight we made a circle of stones on the foreshore above high-water mark and laid in lengths of driftwood and some pine cones. The jetty became a bench table, on which we placed a bottle of champagne, chilled by the night air, two glasses, a bowl of blue corn chips and a warming dip of chipotle chile and Greek yoghurt. We lit the fire and the four of us sat hunched on the jetty like crows on a log, wreathed in pine-scented wood smoke, and waited for midnight. In the last thirty seconds we began a countdown, which prompted some furious and sustained off-the-beat accompaniment from the dogs, and on the notional stroke of twelve we popped the cork, clinked our glasses together and shared a few unspoken thoughts and prayers with the heavens, where a fiery upswirl of sparks made a dash to join the stars. Most expired almost immediately but one or two maintained an optimistic glow even as they flew over the treetops and out of sight…”

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