fast away the old year passes

faux murano

I’m at that point in the year (and my life) when I can’t believe that another year has (almost) passed so quickly. Three more full days and what’s left of this one and we’ll be greeting 2018. And yes, we’ll be doing that here, with friends, maybe even leaving a glass of Laphroaig by the front door for the first footer to bring in, along with a piece of fir from the woodshed, as the rest of us sing “Auld Lang Syne”.

Yesterday morning we woke to snow, enough of it to mean that Angelica’s flight back to Victoria was cancelled and she went by ferry instead, a much longer process. On clear days we can see Vancouver Island from Davis Bay and I remember that Vera Grafton once told me that her father, who lived in Sechelt, courted her mother, who lived in Nanaimo, by canoe. This would have been in the very early days of the 20th century. Not quite spitting distance but a paddling distance for an ardent young man.

And now the snow is melting. The house is so quiet you can hear the drips off the eaves and the big branches of the trees. The decorations — ivy around the windows, tiny lights, the tree itself — look less expectant than patient. They will remain until my birthday, the feast of Epiphany, the ivy dry by then and the fir boughs beginning to lose their needles.

Just now I saw the wine glasses on the table, clean and polished, and waiting to be put back on their shelf on the oak dresser. We’ve been eating our meals since Christmas by the fire so the table still has its festive cloth, the candles on their silver tray (though some of them have burned down to nothing), and a few bits and pieces left over from the feast—a silver serving fork, a bowl. We call these glasses our “faux Murano”. When we went to the island of Murano during a visit to Venice, we thought about buying beautiful wine glasses but didn’t. I still regret this. Several groups of friends have Murano glasses and I don’t know if I’m imaging this but wine tastes even better sipped from a fluted pink glass or a red one with a thin gold-flecked stem. Our faux Muranos came from Capital Iron in Victoria and I suspect they were made in China. Are the decorative elements even real millifiore? Probably not. But they’re generous and beautiful in their own way and will come out again on New Year’s Eve when we’ll take a cup of kindness, as Burns advises in his old wise song. I’ll think of those far away, not within paddling distance, but across mountains and the prairies. For the sake of old times, old years.

We twa hae paidl’d in the burn,
frae morning sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar’d
sin’ auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my jo,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll tak’ a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.



4 thoughts on “fast away the old year passes”

  1. Vera Grafton’s parents must have had quite a love story! My aunt Lou lived for many years at Davis Bay, and I remember seeing the lights across the water from her place. Do you live near there?

    1. Leslie, I knew Vera in the 1990s, when she was elderly, and I’m not sure I have her early history right. But her father was a member of the shíshálh Nation and I believe her mum was Nuu-chah-nulth, from the west coast of the Island, though living in Nanaimo. Davis Bay is about 50 minutes south of us, on the way to the ferry. John’s mum used to live just a bit north of Nanaimo, on the water, and we could see the Davis Bay lights from her living room.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s