This is not the post I had planned for today. I'll probably use that one tomorrow, but I've just seen an unconfirmed report of the death of Robert B. Parker. I'm hoping this is just a rumor; if it's not, Mr. Parker will get his own post later in the week. (Updated to add: the news has been confirmed by Mr. Parker's family. What a terrible loss, and my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.) But the combination of this with the fourth anniversary of my mother's death, last week, reminds me about the sands rushing through the hourglass. These are five things I'd like to do before I go, and I'm feeling a sense of urgency.
1. See the Northern Lights. The aurora borealis are visible in northern Maine, when they're active. I need to go up to Jackman or Millinocket and see them. They say the best viewing is at the new moon, and the aurora is supposed to be more active around the times of equinox; maybe I'll go up in mid-March. The new moon's on March 15.
2. Learn to play the piano. Santa, in the form of my friend Gary, gave me a full-sized keyboard for Christmas last year; so far, all I've done is fool around with it. I bought some "teach yourself" books, but I know this about myself: I'll only do the work if someone else is making me feel guilty for not doing it. I need to take some lessons.
3. Take a walking holiday. I would love to walk some portion of the Camino de Santiago de Campostela, but even a week's ramble would make me happy. Planes and cars fool us about the real distances between places, and I want to see what the world looks like at street level.
4. Go to Antarctica. I would like to see Antarctica. Over time I have realized the impracticality of applying for a job at McMurdo Station. A fellowship through NSF Artists and Writers program would be beyond me, since I am neither an artist nor a "real" writer; also, the program is currently on hiatus. But I want to see it. If I believed in reincarnation — which I don't — I might wonder whether I'd been there before.
5. Live abroad. I've lived (and do live) in places radically different from the area where I grew up, Tidewater Virginia, but I would like to spend a year living in a country that is not my own. My theory is that you can't fully understand your nationality until you import it into a foreign country. My brother James spends months at a time on jobs in Japan (he's there now, in fact), and while I don't envy him the homesickness, I envy him the chance to see what it feels like to be the American minority.
All of these things would be more fun in the company of my family and friends, so if anybody wants to take a road trip to Fort Kent, teach me piano, or hire me to housesit their pied-a-terre in Paris, get in touch.
What's on your bucket list?