Queen Elizabeth II called it right when she referred to the year 1992 as her Annus Horribilis, or year of disaster. She was distraught by her children’s divorces and a fire that destroyed a wing of Windsor Castle.

For the rest of the world, Annus Horribilis more aptly describes 2020. Here in Easton, there were Covid casualties and many continue to suffer substantial hardships. But as a community, we have endured. We had strong and sensible local leadership and exemplary volunteers. Our farmers and businesses came through for us. There was an abundance of kindness among residents.

There’s one more Covid antidote on my list: the ability to take a walk. Being outdoors and taking in the rural beauty of our roads and trails gave us (and continues to give us) the freedom so many in cities cannot enjoy. Others have written about this, but the New Year provides a meaningful time to reflect on Easton’s gifts. The efforts to keep our air and water pure and our wildlife habitats undisturbed has paid off big time.

Exploring Easton’s roads and trails may lead to unexpected adventures

In my perambulations, I discovered that others shared my route so there were opportunities for socially responsible chats along the way. A neighbor’s son biking past always gave a big hello. A couple power walking had only enough breath to grunt a greeting and a sweaty smile. A guy hard at work re-sodding his lawn liked to stop his labors to gab for a few minutes. Often I’ve walked with a good friend to visit Henry the donkey to feed him carrots and apples. All the while, our resident hawks kept watch from their high perches.

The route includes a farm featuring lambs, goats, horses, chickens and an African Tiger Tortoise named Cubbie. Readers of this newspaper may recall back in September, Cubbie took an unauthorized walk of her own, causing great alarm to her owners. Many neighbors joined in the search for her. She was returned home safely after an escapade around the corner visiting Henry’s apple orchard.

One of many magical water vistas in Easton

The journey winds into a serene and silent forest. High on a hill toward the end of the walk, there’s a huge dog, Luna, with a fearsome bark. But once you know her, she’s a sweetie.

To city folk, this may seem a bit naïve. Or maybe not. Apparently, they’re moving here because they heard tell of a life of peace and calm, of neighborliness and compassion, and above all, a life of harmony with nature.

As we depart Annus Horribilis, preferably on foot, all of us at the Courier wish you an Annus Mirabilis or a remarkable and auspicious year ahead.  

Photos-Jane Paley  

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