Outdoors: Resolutions for the new year

Outdoors: Resolutions for the new year

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Happy New Year! I hope your 2018 unfolds as a great opportunity for resolutions, new beginnings and second chances.

I started off my New Year’s Eve in typical fashion, attempting to sit through frenetic celebratory television shows based in New York’s Times Square.

This year, as in the past, I found no redeeming value in the various shows but with a Herculean effort, I managed to last until 9 p.m., when I vicariously celebrated the New Year with Blacksburg, Virginia. I read until 10 p.m., mentally celebrated with Emporia, Kansas, in the Central Time Zone and went to sleep, completely missing the Mountain Time Zone celebration, which I would like to have shared with Kuna, Idaho.

I would have happily slept through our own Pacific Time Zone celebration as well, but for the oh-so-enjoyable midnight fireworks and cherry bombs set off nearby. Those booms invariably presage the tap-tap-tapping of our dog’s toenails on our hardwood floor as she makes her frightened way from our foyer, where she is allowed, to our bedroom, where she is not. I have yet to figure out why a five-year-old German short-haired pointer who has stood stock-still as thousands of shotgun shells blasted within feet of her head, is frightened beyond measure by a few comparatively distant explosions.

I don’t quite have it in me to send her away, though, so over the years Silky and I have reached a Memorandum of Understanding which allows her to spend the night in our bedroom on July 4, December 31 and other noisy dates thereunto pertaining. Sorry. Always wanted to use that phrase.

Personally, I’m not big on New Year’s resolutions, but I have made a couple important ones this year.

First, I resolve to turn on the light in the foyer before I walk through it in the early mornings, especially if the dog has been unwell the day before. Silky is a wonderful and dependable dog, but I really and truly hate to discover her rare gastrointestinal landmines with my bare feet.

Second, I resolve to be more willing to slide under barbwire fences rather than attempt to step over them. I must keep reminding myself that even though I’m six feet, one inches tall, my legs are only 30 inches long. Thirty inches is several inches shorter than the top strand of the average barbwire fence, which can lead to a delicate and potentially painful balancing act as I attempt to shift from one side to the other, while protecting the very tender confluence of my anatomy. I would like to have lived my entire life without using the words scrotum and barb in the same sentence.

For the most part, I celebrate the New Year as a chance to succeed at second chances, things that have eluded me in the past — like razor clamming. I’d like to learn how to dig clams in the surf. The last time I tried, nearby clammers stopped their own digging just to laugh at me. My wife, Debbie the Kind-Hearted, said it reminded her of watching me play craps at a casino in Lake Tahoe. Caught up in the moment, I was placing chips where the feeling moved me, without regard to the fact that I had no idea how to play the game. Finally, the table supervisor told me I’d be better off mailing in my money.

I’d like to improve my identification skills: learn to identify hawks other than kestrels and red-tails, mushrooms besides chanterelles and rocks other than basalt and obsidian.

I may even try again to give up chocolate. Well, except for the really good stuff, like malted milk balls and Tootsie Rolls.

Pat Wray’s new novel, Gift of the Grenadier is now available in local bookstores, online and at www.patwray.com. He can be reached at patwray@comcast.net.

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