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Out with the old, in with the new--kitchen wall calendar, that is.

New Year's Eve has always been a time of reflection for me; a time to look both back, and ahead. Most of my Beyond the sidewalks columns in January issues of the past 30 years have dealt with that in some way.

The following is abridged from the 1993 column. It seems to be especially pertinent to Dec. 31, 1999.

Every year about this time when you stop at the feed mill, or the bank, or the drug store, you'll probably come away with a brand-new calendar.

Ours has always hung in the kitchen, by the telephone. By late December its pages are dog-earred and smudged, and filled with notes that chronicle, in one small way, the year now past. There are appointments, birth dates and anniversaries, and notes and reminders enough to give any future historian a pretty fair idea of what went on on the homestead in 1992.

But no historian will see it. When the new calendar arrives, the old one is just waste paper ... except for a few final moments.

I don't recall ever taking an old calendar off the wall without flipping through the pages and looking back.

The larger events -- the family weddings and funerals and other major milestones -- have no need to be recorded on the calendar. The calendar is for such cryptic messages as "Dentist" (April 3). "Truck" (needed an oil change, probably). "Call Steve." And the urgent reminder to buy "DOG FOOD!" But it's the little things, the seemingly insignificant details, that make a life.

The old calendar comes down, replaced by a brand-new spic-and-span one. Not a mark on it. A clean slate.

I can't help but wonder what messages this one will contain a year from now ... and what events will take place that are too monumental to even be recorded on the kitchen calendar ...

Yes, a new calendar year is totally artificial. A real new year should start with the first planting, or the first lambs, or the first chicks to hatch. Starting a new year in the dead of winter is just another example of man's ludicrous attempt to control nature. The universe laughs at our egotism, and at our kitchen calendars.

But for us mortals, the kitchen calendar mirrors our lives, beyond the sidewalks.
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Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Previous Article:Just a quiet night at home.
Next Article:Discovering our roots: How the 1920s and '30s shaped modern homesteading.

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