Three species of hawk wheeling

Sunwise over nave and apse

Tell the augurs that I would

Have them take these auspices

–Robert Lee Haycock


I remember exactly where I was when I learned the word auspicious. I was walking a loop in town, a popular three-mile loop that offers exceptional views of the Deer Creek canyon. For years I lived on the loop in a historical old Victorian. I lived with my most cherished chosen sister, a second mother to my children. We had combined our single mother households, coordinated our resources.

The loop was not only our exercise but our therapy. It’s where we took people to talk, sort things through, have difficult or joyful conversations. And usually at least once a day, while the older boys watched the younger, we escaped for 45 minutes of our favorite kind of sanity.

And so we did mid-morning on New Year’s Day 2003. It was sunny and mild. The sunshine glistened over the canyon and Melanie said, “What an auspicious day!” Usually I would have been filled with English teacher shame and bluffed my way through until I could get to a dictionary. (This was before smart phones were ubiquitous.) But when someone has helped you have babies you don’t sweat the small stuff. I asked her. Her definition was so detailed and eloquent that the meaning has seared in my brain. She drew upon the beauty of the day, the timing of the New Year, the metaphors of hope and possibility. Still, almost fifteen years later, I still see the panoramic, majestic canyon when I hear the word auspicious.

I don’t really think that the first day of the year is a litmus test for the rest. I’ve had years start out great and end mediocre or tragical, and vice versa. Recently I was talking to my son about how I felt detached from the whole “New Year” thing and he said he was too, and he thought it was because he was raised by academic parents and continued to live in a world where the academic calendar reigned supreme. Probably it’s the same for me.

I also don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve long followed the advice of my friend Molly Fisk, and each January I adopt a word that is my theme for the year. Last year was honor, and it served me well. 2017 is all about vitality, apropos for someone like me, learning to walk on two new hips. Choosing a word lends itself to auspiciousness, at least for me. And when I picture vitality and my body, I will hold the image of cresting that hilly back road with Melanie, savoring the grandeur of the Deer Creek Canyon as I walked at a brisk pace with my most precious sister, lost in glorious conversation.

–Carolyn M Crane


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