Archive for January, 2013

January, We Beseech You, Make us New

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

1) If you were in a rock band or worked for Smuckers, wouldn’t you want to call the first month “Jamuary”?

2) Janus [likely pronounced “yah-noose” by the ancient Romans], god of doors and gates, commonly depicted with two faces, one looking into the future and one the past.

3) In fact, it is not possible to look into either the future or the past. The cold pint poured for you five feet away is not the future, nor, once you’ve enveloped it, is it the past. All those instants are only a sequence of you happening to beer. Since “now” is a flimsy thing, let’s say “this” instead: This. This. This. This. This.

4) 1913. Ratified: the 16th and 17th Amendments to the United States Constitution. Completed: construction of the Panama Canal. Dedicated: the Lincoln Highway, America’s first nation-spanning automobile road. Legislated: apartheid. Introduced: Camel cigarettes. Introduced: The assembly line at Ford. Introduced: Richard Nixon; Jimmy Hoffa; Rosa Parks.

5) Looking into the future and the past simultaneously creates a giant blind spot of the present. It is best, therefore, that we relegate this fate to a god, who can get away with that kind of thing.

6) January reflects on the gone year and dreams of the coming. Or dreads the coming.  We aren’t supposed to grill out in January, but in 2013 we can. We can take walks in shorts and tee-shirts. We can feel in our veins the wrongness of all this warmth, and then not a week later watch the rain become snow.

7) 1813. War bleeds Europe. War comes to Lake Erie. War burns Buffalo, raids Toronto. Pride and Prejudice is published. Toxicology is born–so is Richard Wagner. So long former governor of North Carolina Samuel Ashe. Hello Kierkegaard, who said

8 ) “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

9) Frost lands on the beaches of Southern California, snow falls on central Mississippi, the mountains can’t make up their minds. The nation girds for another year of D.C. and mass shootings. Thirteen sounds unlucky, doesn’t it? Little wonder we huddle together and seek small comforts from ordinary things. Little wonder our thoughts, in the blizzard of present tension that contains also the stillness following the shots and the calm before the bombing, find Janus, who is distracted, but we ask him anyway: make us new.



Friday, January 11th, 2013

The brewery’s been crawling with contractors these past weeks. They’re some of the same ones who regularly repair to our drafty environs after a days’ work performed elsewhere; now they’re repairing our drafty environs and then walking twenty feet from labor to leisure. And actually I was just being cute: they aren’t repairing the brewery, they’re improving it. As the 21st Century eases into its 13th birthday, Asheville’s second-oldest brewery is acquiring the zeitgeist.

Because we love and fear Mrs. Nature and heed the President’s call and believe that enlightened self-interest  goes hand in hand with collective gain, we’ve taken to behaving like plants and pagans. We’re going solar, y’all. We’re abandoning ourselves to the life-giving wavelengths of a sustained thermonuclear reaction 109-times the size of Earth.

Here’s three quotes by Englishmen to commemorate the occasion:

“Just remember that you’re standing on a planet that’s evolving/and revolving at 900 miles an hour,/that’s orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it’s reckoned,/a sun that is the source of all our power.” – Eric Idle

“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?” – David Mitchell

“Here comes the sun.” – George Harrison

The four panels we’ve had installed so far are a small start, an initial 4-kilowatt investment in what ultimately is projected to be an all-the-roof-wide project that sees the Brewery returning a prodigious amount of energy back into the local pipeline.  We are almost impossibly small creatures on an impossibly massive wave, but every day the sun provides us a chance to contribute what we can to global health, and if enough of us chip in, nothing is unattainable.

Look how blue the sky is above our barn.