It is the start of a new year on the calendar. I have often felt that time stands still up here at the Old Place. Pretty much everyone keeps to the old ways, the good old ways. We have a general store, run by a retired Marine. It also serves as the post office and first point of contact for strangers to the area, usually lost because their navigation app was inscrutable. Older, and more able to appreciate the good old ways, we welcome them as long lost friends. Our police department is a park ranger station whose “Major Crimes Division” handles nothing more exotic than a band of masked marauders cavorting about in someone’s attic. (Raccoons) So, it came as a surprise when at 6:00am on December 31st my short wave radio began to crackle; it was Ruth.
“Mornin’ Colonel,” she said, “Sorry to bother you, but you have an overseas telephone call.”
“Really, at six in the morning, now that’s strange Gunny,” I replied.
“Oh that’s not the best part,” Ruth chuckled. “Despite all our travels, this call is from the one place neither you nor I have never been before.”
“I’m listening,” said I.
There was a brief pause from Ruth, then, “Come on over.”
This was intriguing. I went out, hopped in the old Tornio and drove to the store. As I walked in, I could smell the coffee. Ruth put a big mug, laced with real cream and sugar, in front of me, and went off to unlock the front door.
The heavily accented Micronesian voice on the other end replied, “Kukurei Menaái Ririki maiia Kiribati*, Colonel Jim!”
“I appreciate the sentiment,” I replied, “but it’s not New Years day yet,” or was it? I began to think and to muse. Kiribati was a name I had not heard in a long time. Long before MaryHannah was born, way before I met Melinda, indeed while I was still in short pants, Sister Claire Germane had taught our 2nd grade class about time zones. This phone call was from the future!
It is now, almost 18 hours later, on a chilly New Year’s Eve night. Folks across the globe are partying their way through the waning hours of 2017. The Old Colonel is curled up under a Biederlac in front of the fire. Miss Melinda crashed hours ago with Ruprict asleep beside her. Audrey and Molly are in my lap as usual while the gliders bark and glide around the Old Place and throw bottle caps, a cute but noisy ruckus. I sat there and contemplated how this day had begun and what I should learn from it. I had received a call from the future, but if so, then the other person had placed a call to the past! We all know that it is possible to go back in time Einstein proved it, in theory. So all I had to do was take a phone call from Kiribati and all of sudden I was much more clever than Einstein. This was fantastic! I could go back in time, back to the good old ways. . . . WOAH hoss, not so fast. When I received that call at 6:00am on December 31, 2017 from the tiny island of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, there it was already January 1, 2018. How? Kiribati rests astride the International Date Line on the opposite side of the world. On one side today, on the other side, tomorrow! Disappointed? Don’t be. We have an entirely new year full of new days and new months, to live, to learn, to share, to love.
Sitting in a rocker at the Old Place I am, Col. Jim.
* Happy New Year from Kiribati.