News and Tribune

December 27, 2013

NASH: The bigger year

By MATTHEW NASH
Local columnist

— The final column that I wrote last year was titled “The Big Year.” It was in reference to the Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black movie about avid birders and their quest to see as many birds as they could in a calendar year. I had looked forward to using some of the Christmas presents I had received in 2012 to rekindle a hobby that I had only dabbled in the past.

I ended up seeing a few birds that I had never seen before. One of the highlights of my year is when I saw an indigo bunting and an oriole at the Loop Island Wetlands. I attracted a small woodpecker to my yard and got a few really great pictures of some golden finches that visited my garden. I didn’t get to spend as much time as I wanted to outdoors as I had hoped I would, but things always come up.

The big year was also about other things that I wanted to accomplish. I did some things that I try to do every year. I jumped into the Ohio River as part of the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. I raised more than $700 to donate with the help of the New Albanian Brewing Co. and their friends from Dayton, Ohio. I look forward to playing the designated driver every year and appreciate all of the friends I have made over the years, especially Patti and Larry.

I also revisited some of the places that my wife and I had celebrated on our honeymoon. After the first year of marriage, it was an interesting trip to say the least. We did some of the things that we had fun doing the year before and were able to do a couple things that we didn’t have time for the first trip. It might be a few years before we will be able to return, so it was nice to do it when we had the chance.

I didn’t attend as many government meetings in 2013 as I had in previous years. After several years of being a semi-regular at city council meetings, I had to take a break. After you attend them for so long they start to wear you down, although drinking helps. I don’t know if I will go back to any meetings in 2014; I think there is a chance that my free time may be limited in the coming year.

This was also going to be the year that I traveled 1,000 miles on my own power. I was keeping track of how far I walked at biked earlier this year and was doing a pretty good job of keeping pace with my goal. I made it to the halfway mark by August and thought that I was going to make it, but my goal had to take a back seat to other personal things. Maybe I will set a new goal for 2014 and work on it again.

I went on several long bike rides and in July I finally scratched something off my imaginary “bucket list” when I rode a century. I got on my bike one mild Summer morning and didn’t get off it (except to eat and relieve myself) until I had traveled 100 miles that day. It was an experience I will not soon forget and something I can brag about forever.

Another highlight of my “Big Year” was when my son and his wife came to visit me from Utah. They were able to make it home for spring break; she is a teacher and he is a student (not at the same school).

They also got to spend some time here over the Thanksgiving holiday. I enjoy showing them what our region of the country has to offer. My daughter-in-law is a lifelong resident of The Beehive State, but after a few more trips with me I will be able to make her an honorary Hoosier.

This year is almost over and I guess you can say it was a very “Big Year” for me and my family. The end of the year is a good time to reflect on things you have done but also a chance to look forward to the things that you would like to accomplish in the year to come.

The approaching new year is already looking like it will be loaded with new experiences for me and the ones I love. I look forward to the things that I have planned in my life and the chance to wipe the slate clean, and to start over.

In a few more days we will turn the pages of the calendar and the year 2013 will be only a memory. The things we all have done might impact our lives for years to come and it is still not clear what the next year might have in store.

If 2013 was considered “The Big Year,” there is no denying that 2014 will be known as “The Bigger Year” for me.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at dmatthewnash@gmail.com.