Chapter One, Page One

This is Branch. Alluring, charming, puzzling, eccentric, small, big, bold, storied. And on this New Year's Day, when the world is entering a whole new moment, I have never felt as blessed as I do right now to end and start the year on this cliff in this community with my beloved, my family and my friends. In Branch.

Like many rural communities, including our dear neighbours in Point Lance, St. Bride's and the Cape Shore, the first day of 2017 finds Branch persevering. You'd be hard pressed to find a community this weather without the usual trimmings of Christmas. From Biscay Bay to Bay L'Argent, the dances, the house parties, the extravagant light displays, the visiting, the decadent meals, all continue to be markers of a spirited rural Christmas. Indeed, they are markers of perseverance.

And in many respects, that spirited, dynamic, resilient energy is with us all year. In a week or so, the Singing Kitchen will re-start here in Branch, celebrating its tenth year serving delicious hearty meals. Fueled by the vitality of a small group of women and their helpers, the value of 150 people sitting at the community centre talking, laughing, gathering on a cold Winters evening cannot be minimzed. 2016 has been a tremendous year for Branch, fortified by her council and many community groups and volunteers.

So as the New Year enters our lives and chapter one begins with page one being written on this very first day of the year, I hope that you, like Branch and her fellow rural communities, know the blessings of a happy, healthy new year. We celebrate New Years with such festivity and glamour (although we stayed home and watched the fireworks from a distance, having recovered, thank God, from "the sickness")! The whimsical writer Elizabeth Gilbert says a new year is gift, a brand new shiny gift. No scratches. No dents. Brand new. Full of thrilling possibility. What will you do with it? A big stretch of 364 days looms ahead of us, a jar of 364 colourful marbles. I hope this year brings you peace, love, joy, hope, whatever you need so that when you close chapter 12, page 365 next December 31st, you will do it with a little smile and a lot of love.

Here's to a happy, healthy year for all of us, for our families, our friends, our vibrant little communities.

"And now let us welcome the New Year, full of things that have never been"

-Rainer Maria Rilke

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