Thursday, January 1, 2009

A good new year's eve

Well this was one of the best new years yet. Good company, good food, good fun and amazing weather. There were 9 of us to share 4 huge home made cakes, a curry, a load of antipasti, a box of Asda crackers, just a reasonable quantity of wine and a brand new set of Risk SPQR. Unusually for Italians there was not a lentil in sight and not even a sniff of pasta and we’d already finished eating by 9.30. The game of Risk finished at 3.30 in the morning but as usual I lost. It was definitely a ‘good-friends’ evening; people we see regularly and who are relaxed enough in each others’ and our company to not worry about formality. If they want a coffee or something out of the fridge they get it without feeling they have to ask or if they want to sit and read quietly they can do so without feeling they are being rude. With them this is something I really like.

When we went out at midnight for the firework display it was thick fog on new laid snow. So thick that you couldn’t see anything except various hues of white interspersed with dark eerie shapes and an orange glow from the lights of the house. The people in the houses somewhere below ours though were letting off all sorts of things and I am now going to wish for fog every year as each rocket and roman candle lit up the fog with flickering greens and reds and oranges. We didn’t actually see a firework at all, just these unholy coloured glows which just seemed to appear, grow and die with no solidity to them. The invisible trees with their bare branches and contorted forms just suddenly appeared silhouetted against a background of a sort of monochromatic candescent mist a bit like perhaps the woodland equivalent of the aurora borealis. Then, when there were multiple rockets with multiple colours, both the woods and the sky lit up too with huge patches of colour. The occasional enormous 5 kg bang vibrating around the unseen valley also served to give depth to the sensations. There are no suitable words, well in my vocabulary anyway, to convey the feeling. It really was unreal. Something like that scene in Apocalypse Now when the boat reaches the end of the river where colonel Kurtz’s hideout is but without the tension and with more fog.

Then we took a short walk up the track to take some photos of trees and cloaked figures in the eerie light before going back in to finish the game of Risk and guzzle some more spewmante.

This morning too was nice; a slow morning with a long drawn out brekker and a leisurely walk chatting about the things that matter like the various merits of knife sheaths and whether bivvy bags beat one-man tents for comfort and of course planning our next spring mountain walkabouts. What the girls were talking about I know not but they seemed content enough.

The howler was up until about one o’clock this morning so woke up at 11 and was in fine form as there was another smaller baby who she spent the entire day and night and following morning looking adoringly at and pointing and going ‘baby! Baby!’ and stroking his face. But all good things etc. and now the whole crew has gone home, the fog has come down again, the house is warm, the howler is snoozing and I’m off for a radox bath to attempt to read more than a page and a half of my book before falling asleep. Tomorrow, back to normality more or less and down to Turin for the sales to try and buy some gear (one-man tent, snowshoes, cold-weather sleeping bag etc.). It will be hellish I can just feel it.

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