ChatterLog Holiday 2010

Travel

Northern Lights in Kiruna, Lapland

Welcome to our “Holiday Chatterbulletin” – Season’s Greetings everyone, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanza, Celebrate Ye Olde Winter Solstice and a Happy New Year and all that – except that December 31st is not really “New Year” – it is simply the end of the “Calendar Year” … what can I say? Think about it, there’s not exactly a lot of “new life” or change that goes on during the Winter months, instead it is the time when nature “shuts down” and everything is resting, sleeping, or hibernating in preparation for the “real” New Year, which is when we reach the Vernal or Spring Equinox. But back to right now, and since our last bulletin, we have moved from the legally oriented sign of Libra into the medically driven sign of Scorpio, and we find ourselves in the “philosophical” sign of Sagittarius. And to illustrate our Holiday-themed bulletin, we figured, who needs a Christmas tree, or a Menorah (Hanukkah is also known as The Festival of Lights, by the way!) when we have the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights or “Aurora Borealis,” are best viewed closer to the arctic territories, due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field. And, the “Polar” opposite and Southern counterpart is known as the “Aurora Australis,” or the Southern Lights, (gee, I wonder what well-known continent is nearby? hint, hint…) God Almighty and the Higher Powers provide us with a Technicolor myriad of mysterious and magical illuminations, far better than any man-made lightshow could ever deliver.

There are a few themes that I could have chosen for this month, and as with all signs of the zodiac there is both a good and a not-so-good side to Sagittarius. I could have talked about the higher realms and their connection to religion and philosophical thinking, or I could have talked about the lower end, and the potential for excess, hypocrisy, or a tendency to indulge in the “do as I say, not as I do” syndrome. But in the end, I decided to go with a trait that all Sagittarians share, and that is their love of Travel. And while a Gemini may prefer shorter trips, the Sagittarius loves to engage in longer-term travel. One of my neighbors is a Sagittarius, and she is always talking about her travel calendar and when and where she’ll be heading to next. Traveling is a constant thread that is woven into her life and work! And of course, with two of the biggest holidays of the year – Thanksgiving followed by Christmas – there are many people traveling all over to visit family and friends for the holidays.

Traveling nowadays is very different compared to when I was growing up. It all seemed a lot easier back then… you could walk through security with most of your clothing and accessories still on, you could take your own sandwiches and water onto the plane, and you didn’t have to put all your toiletries into a Ziploc plastic bag. And even though we were used to the frequent bomb-threats in London and the constant stirrings between England and Northern Ireland since the early seventies, there was not the same talk of Al Qaeda and suicide bombers flying planes into the World Trade Center. Until 9/11 America had no real clue what it was like to have ongoing bomb threats and explosions on your own home turf. I will always remember a cartoon from years ago in an English daily newspaper following a bomb explosion in one of the larger London railway stations (Waterloo, I think it was?) and it was a “Sandwich Board” of a drawing of a couple of survivors who had luckily hidden behind some of those “British Rail sandwiches” – stiff and sturdy enough to shield anyone from anything, apparently!

When we were younger, we did not necessarily travel that much, instead we stayed home and enjoyed our large garden and the surrounding English countryside, but when our parents’ close friends, John & Elizabeth Greenwood, went to live in the South of Spain for a few years, we were lucky enough to go out there and spend a few holidays with them. In fact, my sister just recently had lunch with Elizabeth and they spoke fondly of those years and of the local characters such as the charming Christobal, who would entertain us kids by riding up and down the mountain with all four of us on his scooter – Simon & Joanna (John & Elizabeth’s two children) plus my sister Charlotte & myself – all four of us, hanging on for dear life! On another occasion, he took us to the local marble quarry and we rode in his big old truck that transported the large blocks of stone up and down the mountain. Years after her husband had died, Elizabeth returned to visit where they had once lived but alas, like so many beautiful spots, the tourists had moved in and ruined it all. Now a grey-haired man, Christobal however, had gone on to become a veritable “pillar of the community” and was married with several children and grandchildren. I also went back to the same area when I was 18 and saw similar changes. What had once been a dirt mountain road up to the quaint village of Mijas was now a dual carriageway, and where once the beautiful Mediterranean coast had been full of local markets and restaurants, was now a never-ending row of towering beachfront skyscraper hotels. Now, here’s an interesting little tidbit for you – the small mountain village of Mijas also boasts the only non-circular Bullring in Spain! It is oval, almost rectangular in fact, and, I also just happened to see it on the TV recently being used as a location in an old episode of the British mystery duo “Rosemary & Thyme”!

Here is an old photo of me outside our little holiday villa in Spain with our temporarily “adopted” dog “Cheeka” taken in 1964!

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