New Year's has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster for me going from a high to a deep low, the latter because my cat Lucy is missing, and I fear dead. I believe that Lucy dashed out as I came in after midnight on New Year's Eve. I did not realize she was not in the house until Oreo, my other cat, got me up to feed her at 7 a.m. on Sunday. Normally Lucy watches this routine from the sidelines and then hops up on the counter for her food. Sunday morning she didn't. Looking around I realized she was not in the house, and calling her name outside did not bring her home.
Lucy is a small spotted gray and white cat originally from the streets of Brooklyn, who arrived in my life a little over 4 years ago. At that time she did not have an ounce of fat on her and was huge in the affection department: a cat that simply could not get enough cuddling, petting and the like, possibly trying to make up for a lack of such care as a tiny kitten. Being especially small she was death on mice as she could flatten herself like a pancake and slither right under the stove after them, or bound from chair to counter top to the refrig making great leaps across the aisle. She could also open closed dresser drawers and I would come home to find my socks spread around the house.
I assumed a fox, fisher, coydog or owl got her, so a sad and frightful end for such a wonderful playful and charming creature with a very big personality for one so small. It was a tough way to begin the New Year.
My New Year's celebration started out on a much brighter note with an email from Dan Plumley, who, in desperate need of a banya, decided to make a sweat lodge - was I up for it? My answer was an immediate yes. Using old tent poles, branches, a tarp and a huge sheet of heavy felt, Dan created an intimate but perfect sweat lodge in his yard. When I arrived with a pile of towels, a 12-pack of IPA and my houseguests he was down by his brook pounding holes in the ice with a birch log.
Dan went to check on the rocks he had been heating in his outdoor fire pit for the last two hours. They were cherry red, perfect. We shed our clothes, I went in first and he passed in the rocks with a shovel, and then climbed it. We had water inside both for drinking and to toss on the rocks to create hot steam. About a half hour later we were ready for our first plunge into the icy brook, an invigorating experience to say the least.
After two more cycles of in the sweat lodge and brook, it was Tersmaa Plumley and my guests Renee Cosgrove and her mother Ann's (nearing 80) turn to use the sweat lodge, a first for Renee and Ann. Wrapped in towels they came out and got settled into the lodge. We had told them about our plunge into the creek, and they assured us that was one aspect they had no plans on taking. We passed in fresh hot rocks and left them to the lodge, and went in to take hot showers and enjoy an IPA. In about 40 minutes we heard a chorus of shrieks coming from the brook, so we knew that they too had decided to take a plunge into the creek. Later we all had a terrific feast of hot soup, ham and cheese sandwiches, and toasted the New Year with a round of Mongolian vodka.
The next evening Renee and I went over to Saranac Lake for First night, a wonderful evening spent dashing from one performance to another.
We raced over to the First Presbyterian Church where Julie Roberts and her talented guests made no effort to depress anyone. Even her song about a guy who drowns his girlfriend in the Ohio River got people clapping along. Lead guitarist, and my former skiing coach and English teacher, Larry Stone shared with me that his Rhode Island friends throw snails in their bouillabaisse, not sure if he meant periwinkles or the large land snails used in escargot, (you never know where you can pick up a cooking tip).
Then it was a stop at a friend's for the midnight celebration and home: a fabulous two-day end of one year and beginning of another, followed by the sad loss of Lucy.
However at 6:15 a.m. on Monday, as I was finishing this article, Lucy the cat sauntered in the kitchen door. Oreo, who had been sitting next to me, looked up and towards the kitchen, and I then heard the door open. I had left it partially ajar ever since I realized she had gone missing in the hope she might return. Lucy hopped up on the counter and looked at me as if to say, "hey, where is my breakfast." I sighed in huge relief, emailed my friends and neighbors the good news, and got up to get a can of wet food out of the refrigerator.
Now, of course, it is truly Happy New Year.