I’m not superstitious, he said, but I’m a great fan of tradition. This, as he tucked into a bowl of lentil soup shortly after midnight last night. Hungarian tradition has it that if lentils are the first thing you eat in the New Year, you won’t go hungry. Or is it that the lentils resemble coins and you won’t go without money? mmmm… but I have the money thing covered already as I have a piece of blessed straw from the village crib in my wallet. (I’m the superstitious one.)
Earlier, in company, we’d established that chicken should not be eaten on January 1, as to do so would open yourself to a year of scratching for a living. Fish should be avoided, too, as eating it would allow your luck to swim away. And you’re not supposed to let anything leave the house on New Year’s Day (oops) – I thought it was only the trash you couldn’t put out. But that book leaving the house was cancelled out; earlier, himself had brought in flowers and shrubs from the garden. One in, one out. Saved. (Did I mentioned that I’m the superstitious one?)
I draw the line at not washing dishes, or not washing my hair though. And I can’t see how hanging up clothes can hurt anyone. But when it comes to the old adage that whatever you do on January 1 will set the tone for the rest of the year, I’m dithering. To work or not to work? To nap or not to nap? To clean house and get organised or let it all sit till tomorrow? Man, I hate decisions.
But I had to make an effort.
We started the day with a full Irish breakfast (specially imported) around yet another international table with four countries ably represented. That takes care of the international/multinational aspect of my 2018. We then set off to explore, figuring that would set the right tone for the year to come. I’ve driven past a sign for Récéskúti Bazilika over in Zalavár a number of times and decided that today was the day to feed my curiosity.
But the ground was waterlogged. We needed wellies not hiking boots. And it had started to rain. I reminded myself of my plan to walk my way through 2018 and decided that a little rain never hurt anyone. If I went home now, I’d be retreating and giving up all year. We walked down the bank of a drainage dike to see if we could at least see a building in the distance. We did see a cross, and a vague outline of stone ruins. But again, the waterlogged fields proved too much.
Having decided that we’d shelve this particular plan until the ground froze over later in the month, we took off down a marked trail into the forest. The rain was relentless but there is something quite childlike in persisting in getting wet, in splashing through puddles. Conscious, too, of the Walt Whitman quotation in yesterday’s blog, I was all for rediscovering my affinity with the open air.
I noticed something odd in the trees. They looked for all the world like pieces of coral. Some were in garlands, others had dropped to the ground. None of us had ever seen the like of them before. And we’re still clueless – so if you’ve any ideas, please share.
Here’s to a year of travel and exploration, one of activity and energy. A year of good meals with great friends from all over the world. A year of learning new things and rediscovering the joy found in the old. A year where sense prevails and world leaders step up. A year where each of us starts taking responsibility for our tiny piece of the world and doing what we can to make it a little better.
Happy New Year. Boldog új évet. Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh.