After a day of low cloud and heavy driving rain, the temperature has dropped and stars are twinkling in a clear sky, and it will be no surprise if there is a touch of frost before dawn.
A minute or so before midnight finds the stalker standing outside his door watching the seconds tick by, just as the year slips away he fires a shot followed by another a heartbeat
later, away in the distance on this still night he hears an answering shot, his heart is gladdened
by the fact that someone else is keeping this tradition alive.
He can remember as a boy his father carrying out the same ritual, one shot to see the old year out and one to see the new in.
This was a common ritual in the countryside at one time, but like many traditions it is dieing
In the present climate firing shots at midnight especially if you have less than understanding neighbours is unlikely to result in a happy new year.
He stands for long minutes with these thoughts running through his mind, so deep in thought is he that the skirl of a vixen in heat on the far side of the loch barely registers.
Eventually he enters the house, pours himself a dram, and a glass of wine for his wife.
They wish each other a happy new year before she takes herself off to bed, for she has never been much of a drinker, and besides she will be busy later as no doubt there will be visits from family and friends on new years day.
After she has gone the stalker sits by the fire with his dram deep in thought, for new year is a time for reflection as well as celebration, thoughts of the past, thoughts of what the future
Thoughts of those who have gone ahead and reached the end of the stalkers path, to them he lifts his glass and proposes a silent toast to Auld Lang Syne.
For a long time he sits by the fire nursing his dram, eventually shaking of this melancholy
mood he gets his coat and his bottle and heads off to first foot his neighbour, he knows
there will be a ceilidh there, a good crowd and no doubt some stalkers both recreational
and professional, there will be plenty stories and much hilarity only ending at dawn or maybe not even then.
A Guid New Year Tae Ane An Aa