Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Sister Years

The Sister Years

Brian informs me today is Rosh Hashanah, which makes it rather fitting that I read a New Year story.

New Year comes tripping down the road and meets a world weary Old Year in Salem, MA in the final hour of December 31, 1838.

I enjoyed this, but I enjoy most everything Hawthorne.

Old Year reflects on all the busy tasks we are involved with that never seem to make the world a better place. "There has indeed been a curious sort of war on the Canada border, where blood has streamed in the names of Liberty and Patriotism; but it must remain for some future, perhaps far distant, Year, to tell whether or no those holy names have been rightfully invoked. Nothing so much depresses me, in my view of mortal affairs, as to see high energies wasted, and human life and happiness thrown away, for ends that appear oftentimes unwise; and still oftener remain unaccomplished."

I went looking for information about the skirmish in Canada in 1838 and found naught but a brief reference to a conflict over the New Brunswick/Maine border. Tragically, 1838 is the year the US forcibly relocated the Cherokee tribe in the Trail of Tears.

Old Year also takes credit for opening the railroad in Salem, "and half a dozen times a day, you will hear the bell (which once summoned the Monks of a Spanish Convent to their devotions) announcing the arrival or departure of the cars. Old Salem now wears a much livelier expression than when I first beheld her. Strangers rumble down from Boston by hundreds at a time."

I would like to read the Salem Gazette Old Year clutches in her hands. Next year, perhaps.

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