We are about to leave the relative security of 2008. And about to enter what will be a desolate end to this decade.
The arse has indeed gone clean out of 'er. Understand that "her" is not a reference to any member of the female gender. It refers, instead, to the whole stupid situation in which the world finds itself these days - economic, political and social.
Someone sent me an e-mail a few days ago objecting to my use of the word "arse." I'm used to objections of this kind because it's not one of Other Half's favourite words, either. Myself, I think it's a great word and should soon find itself in the Funk and Wagnell's new English dictionary.
It may already be in the "Dictionary of Newfoundland English." I have one of those but I'm too lazy to get up and go look for it. It's certainly a word our forefathers knew well. They used it to designate a horse ("Gotta hitch up the arse and go get a load of wood") or a larger than normal female derriÈre ("Some arse on that one!")
Understand that the last comment would be made in reverence and admiration with no sexist connotation.
So, the arse is gone right out of 'er.
I passed 25 U-Hauls with Alberta licence plates heading east on the TCH this morning between Springdale and Baie Verte junctions in less than three hours. OK, would you believe six? How about a Volkswagen Beetle with "Newfoundland or bust" in the rear window?
There were actually several such U-Hauls heading east. Unless the folks coming home for Christmas are hauling one heck of a pile of Christmas presents, the Alberta cash cow is in the process of being udderly dried up.
Labrador West is either on hold or cutting back. Voisey's Bay nickel has pulled back mightily on the reins. What fish were swimming back to our shores have turned around and gone back. The caplin will probably come in with their tails off in June.
The price of gas is down, but the cost of groceries is up.
A provincial government that a few months ago was offering the world to its employees is suddenly crying, "Whoa! We don't got that kind of money no more!"
The foregoing is only a small taste of what's happening and what will happen.
Last night, I was with a small group of people hurrying to get into their cars and out of the freezing night air. The cold sky was bright with stars and I, remembering the words of my father on winters nights such as this, said to my son, "I know the rabbits aren't running tonight!"
A lady friend overheard and called out as she was getting into her vehicle, "Why don't you leave those poor little bunnies alone?"
I knew what she meant. But without meaning to belittle her words, the day may come when rabbit-catching will be a skill we all need to keep meat in the freezer. I'm being a little facetious, but not much.
By the way, the rabbits we catch are not the cute little bunnies of Eastertide laying those little coloured eggs all over the living room. They're snowshoe hares with nasty dispositions.
When we used to raise tame rabbits in cages, we had to separate the males from newborns because the new daddies would almost immediately kill their offspring and have fun doing it. Nice thing, I know.
The only other species of animal which does that, as far as I know, is the earthworm. I've actually seen them stomping the pee out of their little critters. Right.
Now, where were we? Oh yes, just leaving the comforts of 2008 for the nasty realities of 2009, and other associated pleasant thoughts.
The bottom line is that the time is coming, and behold is now here, when many of us will have to pull up our socks, tighten our belts and do whatever else we have to do with our clothes (wear old, hand-me-downs and second-hand) in order to survive.
If the price of home heating oil goes up and up like smoke from the flue, we may find ourselves down in the landwash picking up smooth beach rocks to heat in the oven to warm the bed at night. That's what my parents did in the early years of my growing up.
Someone told me the other day no one is allowed to sell wood privately anymore. Instead, you have to pay for the gas they burned getting it for you. That's the same as not being allowed to buy turrs, but you can pay the hunter for picking them for you. It's what's called blindfolding the devil in the dark.
Governments are very good at that strategy in their various taxation schemes. It's strange they don't notice it when it's being done to them. Perhaps they do and in the generosity of their hearts decide they won't pursue it. Yes.
Very few of us remember the days of the Great Depression. The prime minister used the "D" word a few days ago, perhaps when he was regretting trying to convince us last month that Canada wouldn't even suffer a recession.
I don't know what we'll call it, but as sure as there's dirt in a dead duck we're going to suffer it. I hate to be pessimistic, but I hate even more being dishonest and/or hypercritical. It's going to be awhile before we can all relax again.
I asked someone who lives in the United States what the prevailing atmosphere was among people there. Two words were used in the answer: nervous and afraid.
Perhaps things won't work out nearly as badly as the experts predict. The experts have been wrong before, many times, and will be again, many times.
We need to listen to the people who say, brace yourselves, it's going to get rough for a while, but the good times will come again.
Keep the faith.
Ed Smith lives in Springdale.
His e-mail address is email@example.com