At the start of this decade, I wondered what we would call it. We had a nice thing going in the twentieth century. The "fifties", the "sixties", the "seventies", etc., etc. Progressive and orderly. But then we hit 2000, and where were we? The year zero? Would the following decade be the "oughts", as in "ought-two, ought-three"? If we were going to follow this logic, why not use "nought" instead of "ought" and just call the decade the "noughties"?
And now, seemingly overnight, we're in the last of this string of zero years. Soon we'll settle on some name for this decade, as we'll need a shorthand reference for the past. And the question of what these years might have been called will seem, to Elias, when he reaches his maturity, like so many other questions that occupied his parents, a quaint concern of people long ago.
So, of course Alisa and I looked back on 2008 on New Year's Eve. And of course we were pretty satisfied with the way we spent that year, and very hopeful for the year to come. It is, as I noted on the very first post ever on this blog, much later than any of us think. And the years go by, whether we will them or no. Sailboats move so slowly, and people who travel the world under sail are forced to think in such big chunks of time - this season to cross an ocean, this year to make it across a hemisphere - that plotting out the trips that you might hope to do quickly forces you to contemplate the endgame of living the life you want to live. And so we'll hope, and plan, to continue living that life for this one more year.
For our New Year's Day we went walking in a remnant of coastal rainforest next to Iluka. Along the way we got a neat introduction to the ying and yang of Australian wildlife: super-tough Alisa was brought nearly to tears by the pain of two ant bites (ying), she picked up a paralysis tick (ying, don't even ask why they call it that) and we saw two lifer birds, Eastern Rosella and Rufous Fantail (yang). We followed the coastal route to get home, and had the real pleasure of watching a group of dolphins surfing just off the beach. They were probably common bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, although very similar Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops aduncus, also occur here. Difficult stuff to photograph, as the action happens so quickly. Check out this series. There's a lot of glare off the water, but you can make out a group of dolphins swimming inside the wave, then peeling off to the left as the wave curls over and breaks: