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Fresh starts

01/12/07 12:00AM By Ruth Page
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(HOST) January is a time for reflection, but it's also a time for looking ahead and starting fresh, and that appeals to commentator Ruth Page.

(PAGE) Okay, here we are in a brand new year, or so we say. Of course it's a "human construct," not something required by the heavens. And it's great. It reminds us of the possibility of influencing changes. Does it have to be true that the more things change, the more they stay the same? Nope.

The god Janus was two-faced; he could look both ways at once. That's just what we do in January every year - look back at the previous year and forward to the one ahead.

One change is already occurring: It has taken forty years, but now that the results of global warming are obvious to everybody, folks are starting to act. How many people are using bicycles for local transportation whenever possible? How many are now walking whenever they can?

Walking! Great exercise -- a chance to really focus on what's around you, whether new or aging buildings, or the flora and fauna of city and country. When you walk, you realize how many things are truly ubiquitous, from squirrels to weeds. You also notice that such things have their own beauty. Yes, even squirrels. Watch how smoothly their muscles flow, how they simply ripple from place to place. Except when they're getting into your bird-feeder or seeking handouts on your porch, they're lovely to watch. If you're lucky, some evening you may see a squirrel spread its legs wide to make side-flaps; it will soar from high in a tree to a lower branch in a tree many yards away.

As for weeds, don't springtime dandelions give your spirits a lift? A painting a friend gave me years ago, of a broad green field starred with thousands of dandelions, no creature, not even a bird included, became one of my favorites.

Everyone's worried about the human and dollar costs of the war in Iraq. Well, that is up for a fresh discussion now, and the political parties have done some switching around. So 2007 offers a real chance to try to conceive of a way out that will do the least harm to us and to Iraq.

Congress-watching is going to be more exciting than it's been in a long time. Vermont's Senator Patrick Leahy is now Chair of the Judiciary Committee, a powerful spot. As more judges are required in courts at the top levels, his committee will be able to strive for balance: conservative and liberal should each have a voice.

All these things remind us that a fresh start, cleaning out the dusty attics of our minds, is healthy.

Ruth Page has been following environmental issues for many years. She's a long time Vermont resident and currently lives in Shelburne.

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