Twelfth Night

The 18th century heaped confusion over the date of Twelfth Night. There has always been some uncertainty about it, as, depending on whether or not December 25 or 26 is considered to be the first day of Christmas, Twelfth Night can be January 5, the eve of Epiphany, or Twelfth Day, January 6, which marks the coming of the Magi (the three wise men). The shift to the Gregorian calendar and the subsequent loss of 11 days complicated matters, as it meant that the old Christmas day became Twelfth Night — so much so that some celebrate old Twelfth Night on January 17. However, today, most regard Twelfth Night to be the evening of January 6 and the day in which, according to superstition, all decorations must be removed.

VIcky LIddell, Country Life

Approaching springtime, even from the remote perspective of January 6th, is no more thin on the ground than the crystalline ice patches they cover.  Dieting has begun, the record of sweets and proportions has elapsed, the view to the future has replaced reminiscences of the past, the brandy decanter has been restored to its poetic regard atop the wine cellarette. The very thought of festivity has in my mind evaporated entirely. A casual glance towards the desiccated trees and bushes bordering the frozen river now completely immersed in its robe of ice, encourages not a slip away from hope rather the forecast of confidence.

There are many who begin preparation at this time for their exit from home to southern climes. It is a custom of some debate among the travelers and the homebodies who are often perceived as unadventurous. The domestic allure is nonetheless powerful and for some undeniable. The extension of removal from one’s home territory for more than three weeks (and frequently 2 or 3 months and sometimes longer) is considered by the home-loving as disagreeable.

In my experience relocation from one country to another is not without its perils especially if repeated annually. Removal from one jurisdiction to another clearly contaminants the delicate fibres that unite people who rely upon social custom to replace mandatory communication such as that arising from school, university or work.  Even if one were to adopt by design the frequency of art shows, library classes, sport fishing, pickleball or tennis, the corruption of departure lingers. Building strengthening social connections is a constant of humanity and not one to be discounted.  For some it is a necessity overcome or overruled by familial obligations and confabs.

Whatever the option chosen – to travel or to remain at home – my objective is always to capture the greatest advantage however possible.  Most acutely this means surviving the temptation to remain in bed or to read.  Of course both are far from deplorable, indeed by measure both are useful and penetrating. But I require movement.  It may for example be no more gracious than pedalling my tricycle in the garage or about the neighbourhood when the streets are cool and dry.  For me the supreme delight is driving my car, reacquainting myself daily with its alignment and mechanical sounds and nautical communications. If by chance I happen to be upon a bicycle while riding on a sandy beach along the North Atlantic Ocean, that too is a preference of mine but one requiring considerable attention to both its utility, convenience and expedience. Life must be exercised with a view to what is propitious, what I have found to be a changing dialectic. It requires a power of reasoning no more egregious than the dialogue surrounding the alteration of matters sartorial (which for the elderly is commonly a descent from formality to comfort). In short one must do what works. This means being open to change, the eternal modifier of life’s images and delights.