VERNON COUNTY - New Year’s Eve is a thorn in my side. I’m a fan of New Year’s resolutions (not that I always abide by them), and I love having New Year’s Day off of work. It’s the crazy hype of hat-wearing, horn-blowing, and dressing-up that tires me out just thinking about the eve of a new year.
Lately, we’ve been ringing in the new year at my daughter’s house, playing wild rounds of Spoons, Catch Phrase, or Pie In the Eye. The best time was when the grandkids were smaller and we all went sledding together. Before that, my all-time favorite was welcoming the New Year cross-country skiing on the frozen Milwaukee River.
I moved to the Driftless area in 2000 after a New Year’s Eve disaster. It had just turned midnight and everyone was kissing and hugging when the man I was enjoying kissing said to me over the noise, “Who are you here with?” “Steve,” I yelled back. “Steve who?” That should have been my first clue. “Steve whose house this is,” I replied, rolling my eyes. “Oh, he's my neighbor!”
My first New Year’s Eve living in this area, I talked myself into putting on a touch of mascara and clean jeans. After cranking up my wood stove to make sure the house would be warm when I returned, I drove down the hill on Pa’s Road to attend my first ever dance in Vernon County. It was being held at a high school in a nearby town. Mustering enough courage to get out of my car, I walked into the auditorium and found the band in full swing—and not even one of the three people in attendance was dancing. I snuck out before I was noticed. Later, I was told that I was just too early. I wasn’t yet aware of Kickapoo Time!
On the way home, I decided to treat myself to dinner at the Old Towne Restaurant, which looked more lit up than normal. Upon entering alone, I realized my mistake. There was a brass band, people in ball gowns, and candles on the tables. It seemed like a long drive home.
I’ve never considered myself a quitter, so after being a New Year’s Eve dropout for a couple of years, I decided to rally for 2003. At the time, I was working at the Viroqua Veterinary Clinic. I loved my job there and I couldn’t beat the benefits—a real bathroom with hot water! Because I was living off-grid, Dr. Jacobs gifted me with a key and I was allowed (encouraged) to come in before work and take a shower.
A week or two before New Year’s, the gals were talking in the break room about their plans—mostly house parties or dance parties with live music. I was not interested in the least and no amount of begging me would get me to budge. I was planning on staying home with a nice cozy fire blazing in the wood stove and a good book.
When the thirty-first of December rolled around, that is exactly where you would have found me—until I got a brilliant idea, the perfect plan. No need to change clothes or apply make-up. I shoved as much wood as I could into the wood stove, bundled up, grabbed my backpack, and headed out to my car. The ride into town was uneventful and thankfully the winter roads were in good condition. I drove into the dark parking lot at the clinic and used my key to let myself in.
Once inside I brought out my candles, some lavender oil, and an old bag of Epsom salts that had seen better days back when I had running water in my home. It wasn’t a hot shower I was after this time. I went down the hallway to the dog groomer’s room and opened the door, and there it stood: the gigantic ceramic tub that the groomer used for bathing all her four-legged clients. But first I found some bleach, dumped it in, swished it all around, and rinsed like a mad woman.
While the tub filled, I lit my candles, turned off the lights, and threw in the salt and oil. Absolute heaven. The tub was huge—big enough for three Great Danes and me!
I drove home that night feeling relaxed and peaceful. I was a whole new woman and ready for the new year. It wasn’t until after the holiday, when the veterinary clinic reopened, that my New Year’s Eve bath was discovered. Turns out I’d left my candle stubs on the bathtub edge and the groomer freaked out. What did she think—that the dogs had been celebrating?
Best New Year’s Eve tubby ever!
This year, I’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve in my own home, surrounded by an assortment of my furred and feathered family. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a long soak in my own tub while I think of my New Year’s resolutions.