Happy New Year, everyone.
I, of course, was asleep long before midnight, so my first sight of 2011 came on this sunny morning, in the midst of a little warm spell that sent yesterday's temperature above 50. That meant that Clara and Thomas could ride their new bikes, which was nice, and it should be nice again today before rain comes in this afternoon.
I look forward to the new year with interest. I will be teaching at Hood College again this spring, a course called Celts to Vikings that focuses on the northern European barbarians in the early middle ages. I taught this class there before, four years ago, and very much enjoyed it. This year I have recast it to avoid anything I just taught in my medieval survey class, leaving time to delve deeper into the sort of obscurities I love: druidic theology, pagan attitudes toward death, the cult of the severed head, the law of feud, whether Merlin and Arthur were real people, and similar things. We will be reading Irish legends, the lives of Celtic saints, Welsh bardic poetry, Anglo-Saxon elegies, Viking sagas, bits of Caesar and Tacitus that deal with the Celts and Germans, and Latin chronicles from the 8th and 9th centuries.
At my real job I will be finishing up a project I have been working on for seven years, our archaeological and historical study of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Park. The park runs along the Potomac River for 160 miles, from Washington to Cumberland, Maryland. This has been a wonderful project and I am sad that fieldwork is over. But it will be satisfying to finish our reports and wrap up all the good work we have done. Even better, I get to write a 40,000-word account of the archaeology in the park for sale to the public, and I am very excited about that.
My eldest graduates from high school in the spring -- it is to be hoped, anyway -- and confronts a future to which he has given not a single thought. This should be interesting. Then my daughter enters her senior year, and since she has ambitious plans for college we will enter into the role of nervous parents and fret over how much to get involved in her applications and how much advice to give about college choices.
Sometime in the midst of this I plan to finish the first draft of my novel -- wish me luck with that -- plant my garden, watch my young children grow, and celebrate 20 years of marriage.