Saturday, January 04, 2014

Year of the Salamander

Sorry, hate to be the bearer of bad news. But you stretched out the break as long as you could, and now it's really, definitely, completely, finally over. No more "what's one more day after a Wednesday holiday?" No more "Hey, it's a snow day!" It's time to get over the muscle memory of writing "13," and set your sights firmly on the coming year. Yes, we have resolutions to break and promises not to keep, but that's a given. The big question is simple: what's next?

To be sure, it's a year for the Olympics and the World Cup. There are plans for some big tech releases, from the iPhone 6 and the iWatch to a new Grand Theft Auto. And keep your eyes on the box office for new installments in the latest franchises of Spiderman, X-Men and The Hunger Games. But these are all singular events, relating to a specific time or relatively short span of the calendar. Rather, we need to be thinking big picture.  

What might help is a theme, a tag line, something we can use to remind ourselves on what we should be focusing for the coming twelve months. Mind you, that's not the same as falling back on the Chinese zodiac, that more than 2000 year old astrological classification by animal and element. By that method it's the year of the Yang Wood Horse. And while the new cycle starts on January 31, the traits implied by that sign, including a yearn to roam, sturdiness and a desire to fit in, are applicable only to those either born this year or in a prior equine annum. And since the zodiac cycle repeats every 12 complete calendar flips, this means you if your actual birthday was in 1906 and you are turning 108. If you're less than a centenarian, start there and do the math.

Thankfully, picking a theme isn't something to need to do alone. Depending on your interests and priorities, any number of organizations have examined the landscape and held forth. That means that tomorrow when you get up, you can renew your commitment to protect/kill/remember/forget/try/ignore/praise/ridicule the most important aspect of the coming 12 months.

Let's start overseas. In Scotland it's the "Year of the Homecoming." That means a focus on all things Scottish: John Muir (the country's best known naturalist), single-malt scotch (May is "Whiskey Month") and golf (the fortieth Ryder Cup will be held at Gleneagles). You can run from Bessie in a marathon at Loch Ness, view a "brutally realistic" re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn (no Mel Gibson in sight: this fight featured Robert the Bruce, not William Wallace) or listen to "Piping Live," which promises to be the largest international bagpipe festival ever. Get your earplugs ready.

If that's too much for your inner lad and lass, maybe your focus should be on something over which you have more control. After all, color gurus (yes, there are such people) say that 2014 will be the "Year of Radiant Orchid." Following up on last year's "Emerald," it is described as an "enigmatic purple," and is already being included in the spring collection of Juicy Couture and Emerson by Jackie Fraser-Swan. But get it right: make sure you request Pantone 18-3224, or you might get just plain purple, which would be very uncool.  

The United Nations, being the huge cross border organization that it is, has declared a bunch of "International Year of The's." As such, 2014 will simultaneously be the "Year of Crystallography," the "Year of Family Farming" and the "Year of Small Island Developing States."  This all follows the hoopla you may remember when they proclaimed 2013 the "Year of Quinoa." Good times, for sure.

And yes, there's more. It's hard to argue with making 2014 the "Year of the Brain" in Europe (full disclosure: it was declared by the European Brain Council). There is controversy, however, in Flower Mound, Texas, where the mayor declared it "Year of the Bible." But at least we can probably all get behind the declaration by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. Following up on last year's successful "Year of the Snake" campaign, PARC has declared 2014 the "Year of the Salamander."  And yes, you can get a calendar, so you can be reminded of it every single day.


Marc Wollin of Bedford is waiting for the "Year of the Nap." His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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