A wind storm knocked out our power on New Year’s Day, before I had my coffee and before I finished making our traditional New Year’s Day black-eyed peas.
I put the kettle and the pot of beans, which had been soaking overnight, on the woodstove. They weren’t actually black-eyed peas. When I searched through our beans in the cupboard the night before, I found black beans, lentils, split peas, red kidneys, great northern, cranberry, soldier — but not black-eyed. So I figured half great northern and half black would be a good enough approximation. Who’s to say one kind of bean is luckier than another?
I had meant to start the day — and the new year — with a meditative walk in the back woods, but the wind was howling and that baby goat whose mom won’t nurse him was howling, too.
I grabbed my coat, cracking some lump in one of my pockets. It turned out to be a duck egg from the year just past. This happens sometimes. I carefully removed the glop from my pocket and dropped it in the compost, put the coat in the laundry pile, grabbed a jacket and went outside for the goat.
I threw his compatriots some hay and lifted him out through the fence to come indoors, moving the kettle off the woodstove so I could heat up his milk. When he was done with his bottle, I sat him on my lap for a few minutes near the stove. And once he was good and warm, I sent him back outside with his extended family. The little fellow is about a month old, one of seven born around Thanksgiving. According to his bag of milk replacement they should all be weaned by now, but we like to give them a couple of months on mothers’ milk for a good start on life. Then it will be cheesemaking time for us.
Once the little fellow was back in the goat yard, nibbling hay with his brother and cousins, I fed the chickens and ducks. I lifted the skim of ice from their water dishes and went back inside, and put the kettle back on the woodstove. The bean water was only warm.
We were expecting New Year’s visitors, and other than the beans the rest of our food would be salads and cheeses, prepared the night before. And the house was warm enough, even for our nearly 1-year-old guest.
New Year’s Day traditions are meant to start the year off right — bad thoughts written and tossed in the fire, lucky beans and greens eaten to start the year right. A clean slate, new and better habits.
So I wondered what it meant for the year to start with a wind storm, a power outage and no beans or coffee.
Probably nothing, I figured.
By the time our friends arrived in the early afternoon, the coffee was made, the house was warm and so what if there were no beans? The baby loved the baby goat and we took a walk anyway — on the road instead of through the woods because of the stroller.
It was too windy for the baby, so we didn’t go across the dam. But we ran into some utility workers who said our power would be back soon, and that we were lucky not to be on the other side of the dam where three downed poles guaranteed their outage would last an extra 12 hours or more.
It’s a long year. Don’t be hard on yourself if everything doesn’t go right, right from the start. I don’t think these are omens, just life.
And the beans were delicious all week long.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Jan. 20. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in GreSenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.