Galway Harbor

New Year’s Eve, western Ireland, 1956. The numerals themselves define distance, yet pieces of that time remain with me today, as magical now as they were then. The year’s end rushes by in the mind of a 6 year, vaguely acknowledged, and sleep comes as sleep is wont to do. Only I find myself awoken minutes before midnight on December 31, 1956, by my mother.

Dazed, original, surreal, along with my brothers, I am beckoned to a third floor window, partially opened down, to hear the horns of the fishing boats in the nearby harbor celebrate the arrival of the year 1957. Those wonderful fog bellows were the fireworks of their day, hosting joy through the night air, aural, ephemeral. The horns from those distant fishing vessels remain unique in the years to come, welcoming as a circus, mysterious markers of time. Those sailors who happened to be in the port of Galway on that very special night of New Year’s Eve, 1956, tooted in the New Year of 1957 for themselves mainly, I imagine, and generously for the citizens of their near shores, me among them, rapt, ears to the night, captivated, thrilled to be alive. And to this now far removed percussion of harbor noise, my memory adds in the car horns of what few automobiles there were then about in the town of Galway at midnight on New Year’s Eve, 1956.

I go back to bed and watch for a small while the occasional shadows that rare passing car headlights spin across the ceiling of my bedroom, secure in my home and my family.

And though, as often as not, we are all oblivious to the race of days, the years run by.

The New Year of 2013 is about to arrive.

And I think to myself, Wow! How great it is that life has offered me, and continues to offer me, so many repeated New Year’s and so many repeated opportunities for the – if not understanding of, then at the very least – observations of the passage of time.