January 1st, 2008



Best way to end a year: enjoying the first sunny day in WEEKS, then driving under a clear crystal-studded sky to spend an evening with good friends, including some not met in far too long. Handing lit sparklers to a wide-eyed child as champagne glasses clinked and kisses were exchanged with dragon breath and chilled cheeks. Cheering as fireworks exploded overhead and all around you in the distance. Sitting around the table telling your most vivid memory moments from the past year. Loving your mate in the wee hours of the morning.

Best way to start a year: sleeping in WAY late, eating a hearty American-style brunch cooked by your spouse, playing games with your kids, doing desultory work on a couple of projects and housework, starting a new and promising-looking book, going for the first walk of the year and turning it in to a scavenger hunt for your child.


Martin wanted to play another round of the new game he got for Christmas (we're tied 1-1) and I told him I would...IF he would go for a walk with me. I haven't been walking in far too long, and am determined to start this year off in a positive way. Bribing my children to accompany me is certainly not beneath my scruples. He rolled his eyes and slumped further down in the big chair.

I went into the computer room and found the tiny notebook my sister sent me for Christmas, and quickly scribbled a list on it:
  • 2 animals
  • something blue
  • something new
  • something out of place
  • a child
  • a toy
  • something orange
  • a winter thing
and then walked out and tossed it into his lap. "Come on," I said, "Your mission awaits."

He looked at the list, and then at me. "What is it?" he said, after reciting the items aloud. "A scavenger hunt! Come on!" Suddenly, all enthusiasm, he bounded up and we bundled up and headed out the door. "Muahahaha," I evil-laughed to myself, thinking, "It worked!"...all the while realizing that it made MY plan to get out and walk all the more palatable, given the cloudy greyness and cold outside.

We walked down the street and around the corner and Martin quickly checked off something blue, a toy, something orange and a winter thing before we'd even left the borders of our neighborhood. He tried to convince me that HE counted as "a child" but I wasn't having any of it. We walked around the meadow and behind the daycare, meeting a couple walking a dog. Martin checked off 1 animal. We passed another lady out walking and started down the snail trail. There was something out of place: fireworks litter from the evening before. Another couple passed us, walking 2 big black shepherd dogs. Martin put another checkmark and a plus sign. Then he told me it wasn't fair that he had to do all the work. "Ha!" I said, "I already did MY work: I wrote the list!"

"Okay then," he replied, "Next time, I'll write the list and YOU have to do the looking!" I smiled and agreed, all the while doing the evil laugh in my mind: muahahaha! That ought to be good for several more walks! "We can take turns," I said.

We turned left on Roslövsvägen and headed toward the center of town, Martin chattering all the way. "There are no kids out, where will I find a kid?" he asked. "I don't know," I said, "I suppose they're all inside playing computer games." He looked crestfallen. "Yeah, or Playstation," he said.

"Well," I remarked, "I see something new, anyway." Martin perked up and looked around. "You do? Where??" I kept walking, and he looked where I was looking: a house that's been completely renovated in the past few months—new facade, new windows and now, new tiles set in stacks on the roof awaiting placement. "A new roof!" he cried, and made another check. "That just leaves the child. I still think I should count," he murmured slyly, looking at me out from under his eyelashes and batting them. I laughed at him. "Since we're only halfway, if you find a kid soon, I'll have to add some more items to the list. I didn't know you'd be so good at this you'd find half of them before we even left our own neighborhood."

A few minutes later as we walked up the deserted street, admiring the Christmas lights in the windows, he said, "Maybe you should go ahead and give me a couple more so that I have something else to look for." I say okay and took the notebook from him. After a moment of thought, I added:
  • a red car
  • a number between 30 and 40
He immediately looked at the number on the house we were passing. 27. "Hmph," he grumbled. The house numbers were decreasing as we continued up the street. "You don't just have to look at house numbers," I said, "There are numbers in other places...license plates, for example." But none of them fell between 30 and 40. He found a red car and checked it off.

"Hey!" Martin exclaimed, "Can the number be 30 or 40 or does it have to be BETWEEN them??" I laughed. "Well, I guess since I wrote between that means between!" We turned the corner only to see the house numbers were even lower. Martin groaned. As we rounded the next corner, however, several boys on bikes came out from the entrance to the soccer green and rode away from us. "There's a child," crowed Martin, "In fact, there are FOUR of them!"

We turned again and headed up the pear tree allée. "We'll have to keep walking until we find everything on the list," I said. "No fair quitting just because we've done our regular round if we haven't completed the game." Martin grimaced but agreed, then he suggested that we walk straight ahead to the top of our neighborhood instead of taking the usual turn toward the back which leads closer to home and finishes the walk faster. "There are 40 houses in the neighborhood," he reasoned aloud, "and the higher numbers are towards the front." Up the hill we went and sure enough the second house was 38. "Ta-dah!" he cried. "We found them all!"

Then, since we still had several turns on the street to go before reaching home, he wanted another item. I cast about for a moment and then, spying a Christmas star in a house window, said "Six stars" and Martin proceeded to count quickly to six...then eight...then 12...by the time we reached our house he'd found 25. Then he went around the inside of our house for awhile and finally brought me back the notebook with 100 stars marked off in neat little rows. :D

Punny Funny From the Bottom of My Heart Birthday Wishes to ozswede!