Last night was quite different. It was the night of big bangs, and explosions of coloured lights. and not much sleep.
In this city one cannot avoid noticing New Year's Eve. For we have celebratory FIREWORKS. So, it seems, does the rest of the world, but ours is one of the first to happen, due to the inexorable time zones. OK, New Zealand was ahead of us, but that is a small (though lovely) country far away from most other places.
And we have a very famous harbour and Harbour Bridge. Just the place from which to launch fireworks. There are associated places around the harbour from which fireworks can be set off, and there are many, many places and waterfronts places from which all the spectacle can be viewed.
People troop in to this small suburb from quite early in the day. Parking is limited, and entry blocked off to everyone except residents. The council workers come around and put barriers up at all the entry points, and fill them all up with water, so that they cannot be moved aside. People come in by bus, by bicycles and by foot, carrying chairs, rugs, refreshments and other New Year necessities such as alcohol. Residents get together with family and friends. Mostly people are friendly and cheerful.
I walked further into my suburb, to a street with a view across the harbour, from which one of the many fireworks-carrying pontoons scattered around the harbour could be seen, and watched the 9 pm fireworks display. This is for the little children. I parked myself on the grass, waiting for it all to start. Another family invited me to join them, and not to sit there alone. So kind of them.
Then it was a matter of staying up until the main display at mdnight. To watch this, I walk up to the intersection a block away, from which the Harbour bridge is visble. There is a pub on one of the corners, and it does a lot of business on New Year's Eve. There was a lot of shouting, squealing, and cheering, cameras flashing, children being carried on their parents' shoulders.
After the big event I walked back home, but it was after 2 am before I could sleep, as cars were driving back past my house, and there was also a constant stream of people on foot. At one stage, having seen a bottle thrown to the ground outside my house, and being driven over by cars, I went outside with a broom and swept it into the gutter. With so many people, there are not enough rubbish bins, and workers today had a very hectic and busy day clearing up all the garbage.
It is interesting - fascinating, really to see the way we all react to the beginning of the year. We are in the holiday season now, with many people taking time off, with lots going to the beach. Traffic is quiet during January - rather nice, actually. shops have big sales. I shopped the other day, buying a new doona for my grandson, and a couple of pillows, to replace the very tired ones currently in use.
Today was a very quiet day for me. It is not a particularly good time to be alone, but that is the way of it now, and perhaps I can recharge my batteries. Though it is a quiet time of year, with people away, and the usual activities in recess, I hope to use the time to reflect on my life, to plan for good things to do in the year ahead, to discard some of the rubbish and dross in my mind, and to become more cheerful and positive. Although it is off to a shaky start, I hope to keep to the way ahead. To paraphrase advice in one of Jean Stubbs' books, I hope not to mistake the shadow for the substance, to look neither to the left or the right, and to stay on course.
So may we all, and a happy and contented New Year to all.