New Year Blessing


There’s a goddess across the road from me. She’s curvy, exotic and just a bit rough round the edges. Not bad considering she is some 2,000 years old.

In Japan today, families will gather at their local Shinto shrine to honour elders and ask for guidance in the year ahead.

I took the local option. An audience with Minerva (pictured above), the Roman-carved effigy in the Edgar’s Field, the playground opposite my house. For myself and the girls, it was a short walk to start the new year with fresh air, clear heads and a blessing from our local deity.

After all, Minerva is not only the Roman goddess of arts and crafts, but also of defensive warfare. You never know when it might come in handy.

Around the block

We took our usual walk. Down by the river wall first to watch the Dee lapping the riverbanks with snaking tongues and wading birds skimming the water with leftover-full bellies.

The path curves round towards the pock-marked sandstone cliff, where Maya loves to hunt for snails in summer. There was just one tiny mollusc clinging to the rock today, its speckled black-and-white shell glinting with the morning rays of low-slung sunshine.

The first tentative shoots of daffodils were breaking through below the cliff, a hopeful sign of spring days and changing fortunes to come.

The wind was whistling and the birdlife stirring as we crested the hill, having climbed the slope where Olivia raised twigs above her head and gurgled about Olympic torches last summer.

Minerva was waiting, serene and stoic in her freeze-frame stone tomb.

We lingered just long enough for a moment of silent communion before they were off, careering child-sized go-karts in search of adventures on the pirate ship – newly emblazoned with the festive missive, “I hate Mr Old.”

I fear Mrs Old agrees.

A good spot

But Maya spotted something on the return leg I hadn’t been aware of before. It was only the winter thinning of the trees and her eagle eyes that revealed it. Well, she is – as she always says – a good spotter.

It looks like an old weather vane or a decommissioned lamppost (pictured below). Does anyone know the background to this?

Post your comments below.

* Update: We got an answer. “It’s an air vent for the sewer which runs roughly from the bus shelter across the park slicing through the ‘weather vane hill’ as I call it and on to the river. It’s more ornate than some. There’s another one next to the Old Dee Bridge.” Thanks, Graham.


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