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The Sun Sets on Another Decade

Sunset colors behind Number Four Mountain on the shore of First Roach Pond in the Maine Woods. 3:57 PM, December 28, 2019.

I spent the last few days of 2019 (December 27-30) at my off-the-grid camp on the shore of First Roach Pond. On December 31, I was back in Internet-land to welcome 2020, and watched the live stream from Times Square as twelve o’clock struck. What a contrast in night experiences!

At camp, I stood all alone on the lakeshore in faint silvery starlight, listening to the sigh of the wind and the eerie, rolling rumbling of thickening ice. How can I convey the sound of the ice to those who have never heard it? An image from a sci-fi movie formed in my mind: the door to an alien spaceship slowly, ominously, opening — what as-yet-unknown beings stood on the other side? Behind me, my cabin was a tiny island of coziness in the cold blackness of a vast unpeopled forest. Back inside, I basked in the radiant warmth of the woodstove and the golden glow of lamplight.

On the 31st, as the clock ticked toward 2020, I peered through my computer screen at a very different scene. A million bodies packed into a concrete canyon as neon billboards blazed above and electronic music boomed. It’s hard to believe my camp and Times Square are even on the same planet. Yet we all share this astonishing, miraculous Earth. We share common hopes and fears for our future. And we are all spinning together, on our fragile blue-green ark, into a new decade that will bring unprecedented challenges for humanity and for millions of our fellow species. Can we learn to work through our differences and join together for the common good? Our history suggests the odds are against it … but still, I hope.

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