Can you see me coming? 2016.01.06


I think I'm actually rather easy to shop for because for the most part I just say that I don't need anything more. I want to slim down my possessions rather than acquire more.

So let me look through this box of presents with you that I collected this year. 

• I have the 2016 Lunar Calendar. This is my first lunar calendar in a few years. It used to be a staple in our house, maybe because of the Howling Society that has gone silent in recent years. There was a time when notices of the the Morenci Howling Society were listed in the Observer.

It mostly consisted of my odd family and a few other suckers when we could round someone up. We would walk to Wakefield Park, climb what remains of the train trestle at the back of the park, and begin howling at the full moon. If we start up again, I now quickly know that the next time to howl is Sunday, Jan. 24. 8:46 p.m. to be precise.

The Lunar Calendar is important in that it connects people to the natural world in a way that most people probably ignore. Full moons come and go without much awareness for most people, I assume. When you look at the calendar, you see a lovely progression of full moons across the year as they form a diagonal across the calendar, with each full moon occurring about a day earlier in the week than the previous one.

The calendar also lists the full moon names. January: Old Moon. February: Hunger Moon or Wolf Moon. March: Sap Moon or Crow Moon. Howl in July to the Thunder Moon or in August to the Green Corn Moon.

Back to the box:

• When my wife buys a sparkling drink for special occasions, she always comes home with cider or white grape. This year sparkling apple-pomegranate was added to the mix for our Christmas Day dinner.

And every time I ask: Isn't grape available anymore? That's my favorite.

I received two bottles of grape for Christmas and I've already gotten drunk on one. Drunk on sparkling grape juice? I guess it all depends on your frame of mind.

• I received a bag of dark chocolate Pretzel Crisps, four bags of Bear Naked granola and a bag of Fritos. I'm scratching my tongue over that last one. I guess it's just because Fritos are not generally part of my diet so this is something special. There's also a bar of "intensely dark" chocolate. And if I don't like it, well, there's someone in the house who will help.

• I received a ceramic travel mug with the he word "Mr." imprinted. This is from a friend of my wife's who won't see this column to know that I will use this gift as an example of why I sometimes find present-buying troubling. She felt she had to buy something for me, so she bought something I will never use.  

• I received two pair of warm socks, three t-shirts and an insulated t-shirt. It's an international set of clothing, some from China, some from Haiti.

• I received a gift card for food at Panera, home of good soup and more.

• I received a 10-in-1 bone wrench that's perfect for bicyclists. Count them, 10 metric sizes. I wonder if this will be the year that I replace my 1972 bike. Will down at the bike shop says that traveling bicyclists stop in his shop after they have pedaled past the Observer and ask about the old beast parked out in front. He thinks I might be able to sell it for more than I paid.

• There are probably some items that have already been removed from the box and that I'm forgetting to list, but I'm saving until last the most startling present. It's a new winter coat from my mother.

She bought it a year ago for my father and he didn't like what she picked out. It's down-filled and he wasn't fond of the puffy look. That doesn't bother me because I know that translates to warmth.

What bothers me is the bright blue color. I dress in dark greens, browns and grays. I'm Mr. Drab when it comes to clothing and now I'm wrapped in a bright blue coat. I feel so obvious when walking down the sidewalk. "Here I come! Look at me!"

It's going to take a while to grow accustomed to bright blue, but I want to do it. A new year, a new look. I suddenly have the urge to go shopping for some red pants.