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January 25, 2005
After several days of travel and too many more coming up, it's lovely to be home and in the warm kitchen. Noodle is at the window, her long tail twitching as she watches birds visit the window feeder: it has a one way mirror on the back of it, so she can see them, but they can't see her. It is almost more excitement than she can bear.

Q is reading the comics. We recently began getting the local newspaper, and so there are brightly colored comic strips every day, something exclusive New York Times readers will never see. The comics are very different now from what they were when I was little -- some of them I just don't get, but many of them are wonderful.

I am baking Oatmeal Raisin cookies, the ones on the oatmeal box, altered so that they have less cholesterol. Q is always relieved when I put Christmas baking behind me -- all the fancy holiday cookies don't take the place of the homely oatmeal raisins he adores.

We have a new 2005 calendar in the kitchen with beautiful pictures of hummingbirds, one for each month. This months is a little green jewel, her long beak deep into the throat of a white flower, her whirring wings stopped by the camera in a way we would never see them in the flesh. Below her, the white blocks for each day are filling up. This will be a busy year.

The old Roman calendar began in March; that is why Aries is usually first in the lineup of newspaper horoscopes. The year began when the earth was sending forth its green leaves, its flowers. March is a busy time in nature.

But ours begins in cold and darkness, in an outdoor world that makes us want to retreat from it and make our plans in safety, with time to think and decide. In January, we long for plain things. Useful things. Warm things. Hot tea. Clean sheets of blank paper and a good pen. A book. A neat stack of outgoing mail. A bag of clean old clothes for the thrift shop. We want to be home for a while, making careful sense of things, at a pace that pleases us.
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