Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year’s Eve!

Here we are at the halfway mark of the Twelve Days of Christmas. So far the loot is Six geese a-laying, Five golden rings, Four calling birds, Three French hens, Two turtle doves, And a partridge in a pear tree. I don’t know about you but the living room is getting pretty messy with all those animals in there.

I know that all around me, Christmas trees are coming down, garlands and electric lights are being rolled up and stored for next year. Somehow it has become tradition to have all the accoutrements of Christmas gone by the end of New Year’s Day. But The Christmas spirit is strong here and the trend is being bucked. Everything stays up until the Three Wise Men drop off their gold, frankincense and myrrh, and not a second before then!

I hate it when the joyful colors of Christmas come down and we are faced with the cold, bare days of January and February. It wouldn’t be so bad if we had a real chance of some snow this year, but being a La Nina year we are looking at warmer and drier conditions in the long range forecast. Notice I said snow not ice! With a few exceptions, southern snows are more gentle and easy going down here. But Ice, that is a totally different story. It seems that when ice takes out our power, we are looking at 5 days before it gets restored. It seems that the house is at the end of a power cul-de-sac of only 40 homes. The power lines in our neighborhood run through our back yards where there is a tendency for them to be surrounded by tall bushes and trees. The power company came by the summer of 2016 and trimmed the trees but they left the job unfinished when they cut down the telephone line behind my house. If we get a lot of ice, Mother Nature will finish the job for them and probably take out the power to my immediate neighbors and me. An outage to a group of four takes low precedence on the repair schedule.

What normally brings snow to our area is the scenario when cold air is in place and a low pressure center comes out of the Gulf of Mexico and brings in moisture. Because the temperatures tend to be just below freezing the accumulations are light and the roads tend to clear up before the snow melts off the grass in the yards.

So far this winter, we have had long range forecasts that predicted winter weather a couple of times, but as the date approaches the snow patterns have retreated to the north or the south. Just last week, we dodged a bullet when the coverage of the winter mix stayed south and east because the low pressure was farther off the coast than the early models predicted. My friends in Charleston didn’t make out so well. All the bridges down there were closed due to ice and everyone was complaining of cabin fever.

So tonight, as I sit in the living room watching the ball drop, my wish for 2018 is that we don’t have any power outages this winter. It’s not too much to ask for, really! So c’mon, Mother Nature help us out.

Tomorrow, New Year’s Day will be one filled with Hoppin’ John (black eyed peas over rice), collard greens and football. Honestly, I never heard of Hoppin’ John until I spent my first New Years in South Carolina. I guess Florida was too far south to get caught up in the tradition. The peas represent pennies or coins, and a coin is sometimes added to the pot or left under the dinner bowls. Collard greens are supposed to further add to the wealth, since they are the color of American currency. Some places allow the substitution of mustard greens, turnip greens, chard, kale, cabbage and similar leafy green vegetables for the collards but around here it is collards or nothing. This explains why you can’t find collards in the frozen foods section of the grocery stores around here. They become as scarce as bread, milk and eggs before a snowstorm. Now that’s another southern tradition that I’ll never understand. “Hey everybody, snow and ice are coming to take out our power, so let’s go buy stuff that will spoil in the power outages!”

So, this afternoon, I’ll grab the fresh collard greens out of the refrigerator. First, I’ll wash down the leaves that are as big as the palm leaf fans that were waved over the Egyptian Pharos. Then I’ll cut the stems out and roll them up and cut them in preparation for cooking in the morning.

Left: "The Hit!" Lunch will be simple, Hoppin’ John, collards and a small slice of ham, on the TV trays watching the Outback Bowl from Tampa where hopefully our South Carolina Gamecocks will be spurring the Michigan Wolverines like they did in 2013. I wonder if the Houston Texan’s Jadeveon Clowney will travel down from today’s game in Indianapolis to root for his old college team. I remember “The Hit” like it was yesterday.

“What! No New Year’s Eve Party?” you say. Well, there have been some good ones in the past but so many of my New Years Eve celebrations have been in the control rooms of the various radio and television stations in my career. BTW, you have probably heard this rant before, but one of my bosses thought he would be fair to his guys and gals by giving Christmas Day off to the ones that had children and New Years to the ones that didn’t. The problem is that he gave New Years Day off not New Year’s Eve. Since I worked the prime time evening shift, which meant that I worked EVERY New Year’s Eve during my time there. Yup, you’re right, I’m still complaining, but now with a wry smile on my lips. Oh MY!

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