Here it is, a New Year, and an already auspicious 2012.
Here we are, starting a new year in the UK, the first time for 8 years.
Here before me is my new garden for which there is hope, behind me the ugly bungalow for which there is perhaps less hope.
And here, in my head, are lists of resolutions longer than the tap roots of a happy dandelion…….. Ahhh, the lure of a list of good intentions.
But why auspicious? Well, first thing this morning two magpies were dancing on the lawn, what luck! …and secondly, for some reason I happened to look at the Chinese calendar for this coming year, and to my delight it will be the Year of the Dragon… my Year!
Bathing in the sweet expectations of glorious things to come I am standing by the kitchen door surveying garden progress. I had hoped to have finished the shed by today and although it’s not quite there yet, the small pond is half dug and the muddy wasteland of the front lawn has the foundations of a new path. There is a little collection of shrubs in pots waiting to be planted and the leylandii are cowering by the east fence. They know their days are numbered.
Today, for me, is a day to contemplate the coming year.. to mull over the resolutions, to sharpen the green pencils, clean all the brushes and continue painting the shed.
I hope that for you, today is also one of hopes and dreams.
And here to wish you double happiness are two Chinese magpies by Northern Song Dynasty artist Cui Bo from an ancient and most beautiful scroll.
This painting has the title "Double Happiness," a reference to the pronunciation of the Chinese word for magpie. "Two magpies" was pronounced the same as "two happinesses," so a painting of two magpies was a pictorial metaphor for double happiness and thus an appropriate subject for a painting to be given to someone to express congratulations
The painting is signed and dated 1061, making it the earliest such signed and dated painting and is kept in the National Palace Museum, Taipei.
from: A Visual Sourcebook of Chinese Civilization, prepared by Patricia Buckley Ebrey. Washington University.
A Very Happy, Fulfilled and Joyful New Year to you All!