Sat 22 Dec 2012
The winter solstice came and went. Civilization obviously didn’t collapse on Friday even though millions of people around the world had been counting on it.
Jungle has risen up to reclaim what it can from Mayan civilization, as I witnessed for myself at Tikal, Guatemala, back in 1983 (above). Despite the deterioration of their buildings, the ancient Mayans, as of Saturday morning, were once again renowned for civil engineering rather than apocalyptic prognostication.
Superstitious people are easy targets for hoaxes. Witness the 39 Heavens Gate cultists who committed mass suicide in 1997. Their leader, Marshall Applewhite, had convinced them that by doing so they would get a ride in a supposed spaceship trailing the comet Hale-Bopp. Harder to explain are all the people worldwide who believed that civilization would collapse last Friday. Why? Because there were rumors that Mayans more than 1,000 years ago had predicted it.
Wait a minute! Mayan civilization itself collapsed before 900 AD. If the Mayans could look more than 1,200 years into the future, why couldn’t they have seen their own impending demise and avoided it? Significantly, today’s descendants of those ancient Mayans didn’t expect Armageddon last Friday — merely the start of a new era.
Fall’s finale — Sunset over Inverness Ridge.
Like a modern Mayan, I’m ready for the challenges of a new era. In these parts, that new era is called winter. The era began with heavy rain, strong wind, thunder, and lightning on Friday night. The house lights flickered but stayed on.
A curious blacktail doe at Mitchell cabin.
With the rains has come green grass, and an abundance of wildlife is showing up around the cabin. Along with wintering birds and a healthy supply deer, foxes, raccoons, squirrels, jackrabbits, tree frogs, and salamanders, there is evidence of a badger. It’s a zoo said a first-time visitor last week.
Keeping an eye on the does is a good-sized blacktail buck, who often drops by to graze before lying down to chew his cud.
A young raccoon watches me from a safe distance up a pine tree next to the cabin.
Social grooming — Youthful raccoons on my deck clean each other’s coat of insects, parasites, and anything grubby. This is done for not only hygiene and appearance but also as a way of bonding, of reinforcing relationships.
This was the advice our late President gave the public at Christmastime in 1950, but I don’t follow it. Sixty years ago, it may well have been just as thoughtful to give friends cigarettes at Christmas as to have fruitcakes mailed to them. But those were simpler times.
My partner Lynn Axelrod and I next to our Christmas tree.
We invited two people, including one visiting from overseas, to help trim our Christmas tree. The inter-nondenominational group included a non-practicing Jew, a non-practicing Muslim, a non-practicing Catholic, and a non-practicing Christian Scientist. Afterward we sat around the fire and sang Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Harry Belafonte songs. Plus a couple in Turkish with which I wasn’t familiar. In Mitchell cabin too, the yuletide is evolving.
What remains unchanged is the pleasure we get in extending Season’s Greeting to all of you. Merry Christmas! Heri za Kwanzaa! And a Happy New Year!