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The blizzard began during the second course of our New Year’s Eve dinner at Le Caveau, an elegant restaurant at the Domaine de Grand Pre, our local winery.  Fine new snow began to fall about ten o’clock, swirling down in a wiry wind.

It was fortuitous that there was room for us, since the reservations had been made before we knew we were coming for Christmas.  We were seated at a very substantial table fashioned from a foot-thick slice of a century-old Douglas fir from British Columbia.  It glowed like warm honey.

It was a long, lovely evening.  Our dinner began with a delicious cream of celery soup, followed by by four more courses.  We finished right before midnight.   We crept home in the car, following the tire tracks of our neighbors, and tumbled into bed about 1 am.

We could have walked to the winery, but the blizzard was predicted and there is no shoulder on Highway 1.  Many of our neighbors walk for exercise, but no one walks simply to get from one place to another.  This is the country, after all.  In the country, we drive.

winery-pic

Our winery has a checkered history. When we came to Grand Pre twenty-two years ago, there were rumors that the owner was spending much of his time in the South of France and the winery was going downhill.

It had been started up by an American professor from California who had come to Canada to teach.  The Annapolis Valley apparently reminded him of Napa Valley and the property he purchased was beautiful.  For awhile, it seemed that it was successful, but then it fell into receivership.

Since then, it has been sold more than once.  During one particularly worrisome period, we were quite concerned about the fate of the heritage buildings.  Fortunately, a Swiss family rescue was on the way.

In 1993, Hanspeter Stutz purchased the property and almost immediately began extensive and expensive renovations.  It is a family operation, with grown children and their spouses participating in vital roles.  Our little community has benefited considerably from their dedication, good taste, fine wines and excellent restaurant.

Since we began coming here, the wine business has boomed in this part of the world.  There are at least half-a-dozen wineries within a half hour of here.  Hanspeter’s motto speaks for them all –  “Life is too short to drink bad wine.”

Here’s to the New Year!  Le it be the beginning of a new era.  This is my toast to uncommon intelligence, undervalued compassion, creativity and peace, which seems to be particulary scarce right now.  Snow blankets the ground, but warmer weather and sunshine is promised.  It is already a new day in Melbourne.

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I am writing this on New Year’s Day, which is New Year’s Eve for those of you in North America. I know, it’s confusing. So is the weather, of course. Since I’m in the southern hemisphere it is high summer here. Yesterday was the hottest day of the hottest year on record. It got up to 106 F during the afternoon and “cooled down” to 90 by midnight.

I do hate to be profligate when it comes to energy use, but we took pity on our Maine Coon Cat and switched on the air conditioner. The high ceilings and lack of windows help keep the house relatively cool, but the aircon definitely helped us cope.

By midnight, I was fast asleep. From this you may reasonably infer that we are not exactly party animals. We were not among the half a million revelers celebrating in the center of the city watching 10,000 explosions going off. One young twenty-something was quoted in today’s paper with the memorable line: “We’re going to get shit faced.” Her resolution for the New Year? “Party harder than last year.” I’m really glad to be past that.

I don’t usually make New Year’s Resolutions but perhaps I can make an exception this year. I will attempt to be more prolific this year with new material on the web log. I will try to take my camera with me often so I can get more pictures. I will attempt to write about issues that intimidate me, like Australian politics, sports and aboriginal issues. I will do some exploring beyond my “comfort zones.”

My wife mentioned to me the other day that I have been remiss in not writing about roses. This is a city full of flowers. Every front yard has a garden, and nearly every garden has roses. They are absolutely fabulous and they are about to be wiped out by the heat. I took all the pics for this particular post this morning on a short walk to return a DVD.

The heatwave we are suffering from will decimate the gardens and the trees, of course. But the roses will return. They are hardy, like the Australians. “That, which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet.” That which we call a blog is simply an attempt to communicate, to share the images and ideas that have landed in my lap with a few of you.

Happy New Year! to my faithful readers and anyone who happens across this blog and tunes in to my peculiar point of view. Good on ya!

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