I went outside in my PJ’s and my husband’s boots before sunrise New Year’s Day, breaking my resolution to sleep in.
Well, it wasn’t really a resolution, just a plan, but the dog needed to go out. And as long as we were outside, we checked the stars and said good morning to the goats, who indicated they would not mind an early breakfast. So I got some hay, disturbing the hens who were roosting on hay bales instead of in their henhouse. And since they were up, I fed them too, and since it was almost light anyway, I let the ducks out.
Our two old lady ducks, Rosemary and Wendy, had both laid eggs, unusual for this time of year. A New Year’s omen? “When the ducks two eggs doth lay, luck shall follow New Year’s Day.”
OK, I made that up. But what is it about New Year’s Day that makes us want a clean slate, a new start and everything to be fraught with meaning?
There are some odd New Year’s Day myths and superstitions. Like don’t sweep on New Year’s Day or you’ll sweep all the luck out of the house. Or maybe don’t take anything out of your house, not even the garbage, or you’ll take the luck with it. And don’t wash your hair or the floors or the laundry or you’ll wash luck and possibly loved ones from your life.
Don’t eat things that walk backward, like chicken or lobster, because New Year’s is a time to look forward (although I’ve never seen a chicken walking backward.) Eat grapes for luck or, better yet, black-eyed peas and greens, which may or may not symbolize coins and dollars. Don’t cry or break things or you’ll have a rough year, and be sure to check the wind direction for signs of good, bad or indifferent fortune.
Once you start reading about portends and omens, you start wondering about the meaning of everything you see. The first bird at the feeder on New Year’s Day was a nuthatch — does that mean everything will be upside down this year? Or is it a sign of happiness and productivity? The fire started easily first thing in the morning — a symbol of a year of ease and all things working?
Not that I believe in superstitions, but I did start New Year’s morning with a pot of black-eyed peas (luck!) simmering on the woodstove and plans to eat it with kale (money!) and rice (abundance!) at dinner.
I was going to clean the house since I had the day off, but after finding out that doing so would remove the luck from the new year, I decided to take a nap instead. Hopefully that will usher in a restful, thoughtful year.
And I didn’t actually make any official resolutions, although I did spend a little time thinking about how best to live on this planet. More walks, more creative time — reading, writing, making things. Less waste, more reusing, refilling, repurposing, making it last and making it myself.
Buy less, share more. And maybe make up your own superstitions.
Greenpoint appears every other Sunday. Look for it next on Jan. 19. Reach Margaret Hartley at [email protected] or @Hartley_Maggie on Twitter. Opinions expressed in Greenpoint are hers and not necessarily the newspaper’s.